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When dressed in something less glaring than our car's canary yellow, the Commodore is a smartly designed large family sedan. By pushing the front wheels as far to the front of the car as possible, the Commodore proudly advertises its rear-wheel drive layout. It's only on the high-end models, though, with their fat tyres and big wheels, that the aggression of the flared wheel arches is sufficiently realised.
The SS-V's 19-inch alloy wheels, quad tailpipes, body kit, 10mm lower suspension and large boot spoiler are essential parts of the car's boy-racer looks. The spoiler is functionally debatable, but worse, it horribly obstructs vision rearwards, fuelling our paranoia to the point where we began suspecting that any white car behind us was a police vehicle.
Late in 2010, Holden updated the Commodore range, with the shift from VE Series I to II marked by a series of mild cosmetic changes. Only the most ardent Commodore fan will notice the lightly redesigned bumpers, new alloy wheel designs and more pronounced aero lip on the sedan's boot. For many, the most obvious alternations are the Series II badges and less rectangular headlights.
At 4.9m long from bumper to bumper there's no denying that the Commodore is a big car. The boot isn't quite as capacious as we were hoping for, partly because our review vehicle was fitted with the optional full-size spare wheel instead of the standard inflation kit and can of sealant — without the spare wheel boot space is rated at 498-litres. Unless you opt for the wagon, the rear seats can't be folded down; boot-expansion on the sedan is limited to a supersized ski port for long items. There's no internal handle or grip on the inside of the boot lid, either, so prepare to get your hands dirty every time you close the trunk.
It mightn't have Audi quaking its boots, but generally speaking the Commodore's cabin is nicely designed and a comfortable place to be. That is, of course, unless you opt for a red or light or dark grey SS-V, in which case your eyes will be assaulted by splashes red on the seats, lower dashboard and various other locales.
The cockpit's materials feel quite hardy, especially the leather seats, and there's even soft plastic on the dashboard top and a rubberised bin in the centre console that's a perfect fit for most smartphones. On the down-side, the cup-holders aren't well placed, the plastic cover for the instrument panel reflects quite badly — making it almost impossible to read the analog instruments without the interior illumination on and the handbrake design can easily trap your thumb if you're not careful. There are also some rough edges on the underside of the plastic that lines the centre console, and the centrally located electric window switches feel a bit flimsy.
Given the car's dimensions, it's no surprise that the Commodore is spacious, with plenty of room for all five passengers. As the steering wheel is adjustable for both height and reach, finding a comfortable driving position should be possible for all, although the seat adjustment ratchets can be tiring and for down-sized individuals (such as this writer) the seats don't feel as grippy as they look. The rear seats are quite vertical, although occupants do get their own air conditioning vents. Lowering the rear armrest is quite a chore as there's no pull latch attached and, oddly, the rear seat's cup-holders can only be accessed when the ski port is folded down.
Given the retail price of $55,290 after GST but before dealer and statutory charges, the SS-V isn't creaking under the weight of its tech-gear. On the flip side, it does offer acres of space, a wonderful driving and riding experience (more on that later) and plenty of tyre-frying V8 action.
Standard features on the SS-V include leather seats, steering wheel and gear knob, automatic headlights, front fog lights, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, cruise control, electric height adjustment on the driver's seat, alloy pedals and a flip-out key as standard. On the performance and safety front there are 19-inch alloy wheels, 10mm lower sports suspension, a limited slip differential and stability and traction control.
Other nice features — such as auto-dimming rear view mirror, xenon headlights, rain sensing wipers, fully electric seats and a separate rear seat entertainment module — are only available on the luxury-themed Calais and Caprice models.