Redline, at about $51,000, and the flagship GTS which nears $100,000 with on-road costs .
The 6.2-litre V8 has the same power output— 317kW— but the car is 68kg lighter, the biggest weight reduction in the entire VF Commodore line-up.
For those who want a little more, the Clubsport R8 steps up to $71,000 and gets the 325kW of the previous GTS.
The Clubsport R8 also comes with Bose stereo, headup display, machined alloy wheels, bi-modal exhaust and HSV’s EDI system, which enables the driver to tune the car for the road or track at a touch of the screen.
An optional SV Performance Pack includes lightweight wheels, black accents on the bodywork, engine upgrade to 340kW and 570Nm, thanks to the clever bi-modal air intake (as in the GTS, it sucks in more oxygen at certain revs) and specially tuned exhaust.
As a package deal it lists for $4995 but with GST and Luxury Car Tax imposed the option adds at least $6000 to the drive-away price. That might
sound a bit
steep but it’s money well spent. The power upgrade may sound subtle but the difference is both audible and palpable.
As before, the V8 (known as the LS3) is smooth and linear but it has more of a growl, then a bark. It’s at complete odds with the refinement of the rest of the car.
Inside, faux-suede, real leather and an extremely convincing chrome finish on the plastic highlights give the Clubsport an upmarket appearance it’s never had before.
For all the Clubsport R8’s finesse, I’mtorn between it and its $10,000 cheaper sibling, the basic Clubsport, which misses out on some of the electronic gadgetry and comes only with Commodore SS seats (with HSV headrests). But the cooking Clubsport feels lighter and more responsive than the R8 and lacks nothing in the way of agility, grip and grunt.
I had expected to clamber over the Clubsport in the scrum for the keys to the tastier models on the test drive at Phillip Island race track.
But now I reckon I prefer it to the others.
Taking the price cut into calculations, it’s a no-brainer.
The only option worth considering on the base Clubsport is the $1500 set of lightweight 20-inch wheels (from the 25th-anniversary GTS released last year). I’m struggling to think of $1500 better spent anywhere else in the car industry.
As the cheapest ticket into the HSV brand, the Clubsport typically gets parked in shopping centres as a raffle prize for local charities. It deserves better than this humiliation.
With the Clubsport as the starting point, imagine how good the GTS is going to be.