Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Holden Ute SV6
Real beaut ute
March 2008

YOU can drive sexy red Alfas, gleaming black BMWS, and even thumping silver Subaru WRXs all day long, but nothing turns heads in Australia like the new Holden Ute.

When it is the SV6 version in bright, metallic green _ called “Atomic’’ in Holden sales brochure speak _ prepare to be treated more like a movie star than a tradesman (or road tester pretending to be a flashy builder).

This work beast is all beauty. Never before have we attracted so much attention in a test vehicle. Young and old, male and female, everyone it seems is drawn to its smooth, powerful lines.

At $35,990, the SV6 sits between the entry-level Holden utilities _ which cost some $5000-$6000 less _ and its burbling V8-endowed big brother the SS, which will set you back about $4000 more.

Most people won’t be able to tell you have the less-grunty version, as the SV6 looks similar to the SS, having the same body kit and 18-inch wheels. They differ in that the SS has a 6.0-litre power plant and a different gearbox and tailpipes.

The SV6 is one of the stars of the all-new VE ute range, the latest in a line-up of iconic models that span almost 60 years of Australian motoring.

It heralds Holden's first completely new design since the VU in 2000 and has more features, useable interior space, storage flexibility and performance than its predecessors.

The release followed a $105 million investment and more than 650,000km of reliability testing.

Holden's world-class design and engineering expertise has produced a vehicle that combines sports car performance, ride and handling with workhorse practicality.

Sharing the same genetic make-up as the multi-award winning VE Commodore sedan, the VE Ute was designed, engineered and built in Australia.

SV6 comes with a high output V6 engine, six-speed manual transmission and dual exhausts but adds sports suspension. Five-speed automatic transmission with Active Select is optional.

The rear-wheel-drive V6 offers excellent performance, delivering 195kW of power at 6500rpm and 340NM at 2600revs. The engine does, however, get a touch raspy when pushed hard.

Economy is only fair, with the Holden returning average fuel figures of 11.4 litres for every 100km covered.

Rear suspension has been given an almighty tweak ensuring greater lateral grip and linear response during cornering. VE Ute also benefits from bigger brakes and larger wheel and tyre packages. Also on the safety front, there’s driver and front passenger airbags, ABS, ESP and Traction Control.

The interior is clean and modern and contains creature comforts tradesmen of old could never have imagined.

There’s air-conditioning, oodles of storage space behind the front seats, quick release seat handles, cruise control, power steering, central locking, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and Blue Tooth connectivity.

On the open road, the well-mannered ute is a dream, cruising along effortlessly at the highway limit.

One of the few grumbles is visibility, hampered by wide windscreen pillars and small mirrors.

For all its sporty attributes, the SV6 can still do plenty of work. The tray measures 1878mm _ 14mm longer than the VZ _ and it features new “hidden’’ hinges for the tailgate and grooves to hold ramps for loading motorbikes. It can carry a load of 634kg.

Those looking for a utility with plenty of attitude and street appeal to balance its functionality will be hard pressed finding a more sophisticated and elegant all-rounder than this lovable Holden. But be prepared to be mobbed.



ENGINE: 3.6-litre V6

PEAK POWER: 195kW at 6500rpm

TORQUE: 340Nm at 2600rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual or 5-speed auto

PROS: Stunning looks, performance, car-like driving dynamics

CONS: Wide windscreen pillars hamper visibility, mirrors too small, noisy engine

ECONOMY: 11.4 litres/100km (average)

BOTTOM LINE: $35,990 for manual (auto $36,990)