The Mad Max Ford Falcon “Interceptor” was billed as the “last of the V8s,” but this four-door sedan from General Motors might actually be the car to claim that title. It’s the 2016 Holden Commodore VFII (VF Series II), and it’s likely the last update of the big rear-wheel drive bruiser before GM ends Australian production in 2017.
Rather than post-apocalyptic scarcity, the more mundane forces of economics are what is killing the Australian car industry. Carmakers no longer see at as worthwhile to build specifically for the Aussie market, and the same forces that took big, V8-powered cars out of the mainstream in other countries are gradually eroding their popularity Down Under.
The Commodore should look familiar. It’s sold here as the Chevrolet SS, and long-wheelbase versions serve as Caprice police pursuit vehicles. Some of the Australian-market 2016 updates may make it to the U.S. version, the future of which is somewhat uncertain given the imminent demise of its Australian progenitor.
The sportiest Commodore models get the 6.2-liter LS3 V8 that’s already used in the SS. Replacing an older 6.0-liter V8, the LS3 produces 407 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, compared to 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft in the Chevy. Buyers get to choose between six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Base models continue with V6 engines.
Holden says the new engine makes this the quickest factory Commodore ever, although tuner HSV will likely build an even quicker version. Other notable mechanical updates include a new bi-modal exhaust system to allow drivers to make the most of the V8’s glorious sound, and Brembo brakes on SSV Redline models.
The Commodore also gets a new front fascia with functional hood vents and air curtains, which help smooth airflow over the front wheels. Some of these elements could be translated to the SS, although the vents already look like they were stolen from a Buick Verano.
The 2016 Holden Commodore VFII goes on sale in Australia in October. After Australian car production ceases in 2017, GM will likely stock the Holden lineup with versions of cars from other markets.
Holden may build a special-edition model to cap things off, but this could very well be the last gasp of the Australian speciality that features so much of what made American cars of the past great.