IT’S no secret that Holden is ditching the current small-block Chev V8 set-up in its next Commodore-based race car. With no V8-powered Commodores in showrooms, it just doesn’t make sense to continue racing them with the good old V8. The new imported Commodore performance flagship will however be available with a six-cylinder mill, and so a similar configuration has been chosen for its Supercars sibling.
The engine is a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 based on the production engine found in the Cadillac ATS-V, a performance version of the luxury brand’s mid-size sedan. It is very much different from the 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6 that is expected to find its way under the nose of the all-wheel-drive performance Commodore VXR flagship expected to arrive in 2018. The race car will still be rear-wheel drive too, based off Supercars’ Car Of The Future regulation chassis.
The new boosted V6 will be used by the Red Bull Racing Australia Supercars team next year as a wildcard entry alongside the existing V8-powered cars. With some race miles under its belt, the new donk will go full-time in the 2019 season under the bonnet of the new-look Commodore race car.
While Holden and the Red Bull team, who have been testing the engine since early this year, have assured fans and the motorsport press that the new V6 will sound the business, no one outside of either company has actually heard it spin in anger – until now. At this weekend’s Bathurst 1000, Red Bull will be doing demo laps with the new engine in their Sandman Supercar – based off a V8 Supercar from a couple of years ago.
Yesterday the car made its first lap of the Bathurst Mount Panorama circuit with racing legend Greg Murphy behind the wheel, and we have to say, initial impressions from us are that it sounds cool! No, it doesn’t have the scream of a high-revving V8, but it does have a tough snarl to it, and when Greg lifted off the loud pedal you get all kinds of blow-off valve whistles. It’s definitely something different.
Greg also reported after the lap that it felt strong and was pretty easy to drive. One of the big differences from a driver standpoint is that the new engine uses a drive-by-wire throttle rather than a cable linkage like the old one, but Greg reckoned it felt very responsive and natural – as you’d expect, as drive-by-wire has been used in production cars for yonks.
What do you reckon of the sound of the new twin-turbo V6 engine? It’ll be interesting to see whether other teams make the switch from V8s to different engine configurations.