The development bill for the Ute came in at a relatively cheap $105.1 million Aussie (USD $91 million), but all the hard work had been done of the VE sedan, which cost $1 billion Aussie (US $953,000).
The front of the Ute, from the B-pillar onwards is essentially the same as the VE sedan. That means it carries over all the improvements, including moving the steering rack forward of the front axle, as well as improved engine noise and vibration damping.
Much of the Ute looks like a VE sedan, but the primary underbody structure is actually borrowed from Holden’s WM Statesman/Caprice luxury sedans with a relatively long wheelbase of 118-inches (3,009-mm) which allows for extra room in the tray. That’s right, a Ute using the same base as the most expensive models in the Holden range.
We should make it clear right from the word go that the Holden Ute was never meant to cart big and heavy loads. The Ford ute rivals do that better. Holden said 75-percent of the Utes it sells are sporty models. The VE Ute is not a traditional pickup truck, it has minimal ground clearance of just 3.9-inches (10-cm) and there is not a leaf-spring to be found. The rear suspension of VE Ute is more sophisticated than what you’d find at the back of the Ford Mustang.
Stick your bonce underneath the Ute and you’ll discover the same four-link independent suspension as the VE sedan with coil-over shock absorbers. This makes for car-like handling, but along with the low profile rubber, means the SS Ute is only capable of carrying a relatively low total of 1,360-pounds (617-kg). Go for the optional 19-inch rims and the load capacity drops to just 1,164-pounds (528kg).
The towing limit for all VE Utes is 3,527-pounds (1,600kg). The VE Ute is only available with a metal tub and there is no option of a flat steel or aluminium tray. Holden has fitted the Ute with a one-piece body side and uses high tensile steel for 77-percent of the body struck to make it as stiff as possible.
Holden designers wanted to make sure the Ute would stand out in the street. It came up with something that looks like an El Camino that has been chewing on steroids for the last 20 years.
The muscular SS, with its sleek roofline and bulging wheel arches causes blokes to stare like they are watching a Bondi bikini contest. That’s certainly what happened when the testosterone fuelled Utes rolled though Tumbarumba, Jingellic and Khancoban at the Australian launch last week.
Mind you, any new cars tend to cause a fuss in these small country towns of New South Wales.