IT’S SUM COM­MODORE

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Special Report -

IT’S hard to know where to start with the HSV W427. The easy way is with the best set of num­bers in Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing. That means 427 cu­bic inches, 375kW, 620Nm, 250km/h, and 4.7 sec­onds for a 0-100km/h blast.

The com­bi­na­tion qual­i­fies it as Aus­tralia’s first gen­uine su­per­car— at least since the GTHO Fal­con and To­rana A9X from the 1970s — with per­for­mance to pun­ish a Porsche and frighten a Fer­rari.

But there is no way to es­cape the big­gest num­ber of all — $155,500.

That is a pile of cash for a Com­modore, even one that qual­i­fies com­fort­ably as the top dog in Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing.

There has never been a Com­modore as ex­pen­sive or as quick as the W427, which has picked up the 7.0-litre V8 en­gine from Amer­ica’s king-of-the­hill Corvette as part of a fi­nal 20th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion by Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles.

The rest of the pack­age is just as im­pres­sive, from 20-inch al­loys and Brembo brakes to re­cal­i­brated elec­tronic dampers and an ac­tive ex­haust with big-bore three-inch pipes.

The body bits are also new, in­clud­ing a car­bon-fi­bre blade across the boot, but the cabin is strangely sub­dued and lets the car down badly.

It does not even have a build plate to re­mind the owner they have made the right choice in splash­ing out on the com­mem­o­ra­tive Com­modore.

And the top dog has a thirst — of­fi­cially 17.1 litres for 100km — which will make it ex­pen­sive to run.

Still, 90 peo­ple have made their de­ci­sion on the W427 and will get a car be­fore the end of the year. An­other 110 were ex­pected to fol­low, but HSV is not sure where de­mand will settle and plans to limit pro­duc­tion to 427 cars, if it can even­tu­ally move that many.

‘‘We can build as many or as few as the mar­ket gen­uinely wants. We are lit­er­ally build­ing cars only against a con­firmed cus­tomer or­der,’’ Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Scott Grant says.

He re­acts sharply to any com­plaints about the car and its price.

‘‘We re­ject that it’s a Com­modore, to start with. When you drive the car it’s a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion,’’ he says.

‘‘For that price it’s a good-value propo­si­tion. It’s a hell of a lot of car for that money.’’

But the same money, or less, will buy a BMW M3 or Mercedes C63 and those are pedi­gree per­for­mance cars.

The story of the W427 be­gan more than two years ago when HSV man­age­ment was plan­ning the 20th birth­day party for the hot Holden shop. The idea was to cre­ate a car with as much— or more— im­pact than the first ‘‘Bat­mo­bile’’ HSV VL Com­modore in 1988.

‘‘This is the car that HSV has al­ways wanted to build,’’ Grant says.

Plan­ning quickly ze­roed-in on the Corvette in the US and its mon­ster LS7 mo­tor, with the same top-dog approach to ev­ery com­po­nent.

HSV en­gi­neer­ing boss Joel Stod­dart says: ‘‘The de­vel­op­ment pro­gram has been ex­ten­sive. It has ev­ery safety sys­tem we could throw at it. This car had to have HSV’s best-ever brak­ing pack­age . . . it had to have the best han­dling.’’

And W427? The name is a nod to HSV boss Tom Walkin­shaw and the ca­pac­ity of the 7.0-litre V8 in old­fash­ioned cu­bic inches.

The price was fore­cast in the $125,000 range when it was pre­viewed at the Melbourne Mo­tor Show in March, but has blown out af­ter fi­nal cost­ings — partly be­cause of a lux­ury car tax hike — to $155,500.

‘‘A lot of money has been spent in spe­cific per­for­mance parts, and in the en­gi­neer­ing and test­ing. That’s what makes the W427 unique,’’ Grant says.

The W427 has a three-year, 100,000km war­ranty and each will be vir­tu­ally hand-built in a spe­cial sec­tion of the HSV fac­tory at Clay­ton in Melbourne. Own­ers will be in­vited to see their car be­ing as­sem­bled.

DRIV­ING

‘‘MATE, it wasn’t too long ago that a V8 Su­per­car went like this,’’ Mark Skaife says as we thun­der to­wards turn one at Calder Park race­way.

The speedo nee­dle is twist­ing rapidly to­wards 200km/h — from a stand­ing start at the bot­tom end of the pit­lane— and Holden’s big man waits way late be­fore stomp­ing the brakes and hus­tling the car into the first tight right-han­der.

The W427 just stops, turns, then erupts again.

It proves in a hand­ful of sec­onds that it is a new bench­mark for Aussie mus­cle, not just in the en­gine room but in the brakes and sus­pen­sion. The W427 can put 375kW on to the road.

Skaife makes a dif­fer­ence, but the W427 is su­per­car fast. It’s not as nim­ble as a pedi­greed Euro like the M3, that’s for cer­tain, but it more than com­pen­sates with brash and bru­tal bril­liance.

Rain clouds are clos­ing fast on Calder so there is too lit­tle time for me to push right to the lim­its, but the W427 is sur­pris­ingly easy to punt along quickly.

The en­gine is ab­so­lutely bril­liant, pulling like a lo­co­mo­tive to the 7000-rev red­line, and the brakes are

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