What a car. W1? What's that again?

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

EN­GINE 6162cc V8, OHV, 16v, su­per­charged / POWER 435kW @ 6150rpm / TORQUE 740Nm @ 3850rpm / WEIGHT 1886kg / PRICE $109,490 (man­ual)

IF YOU'VE got an HSV Gen-F2 GTSR in the drive­way or on or­der, you are one very lucky boy. Or girl.

That's be­cause we've just had this Spit­fire Green ex­am­ple through the MO­TOR of­fice and it made us won­der, do you re­ally needed a W1? But since no­body on MO­TOR staff has driven a W1 yet – long story – we can't be con­clu­sive. And we weren't about to lend it to Mor­ley (who has driven a W1). All we know is, if we never got to drive a W1 and were left with a GTSR, it wouldn't be all so bad.

This is an ex­cel­lent mus­cle car. Per­haps it's not the 'great­est' car

HSV has ever made, but it could be the sweet­est. The 'best', even.

It starts, of course, with the ex­te­rior. In that lu­mi­nous green it can't be missed, rolling on those huge 20-inch Hy­per Dark Stain­less wheels hid­ing the same enor­mous brakes as the W1. Up front AP Rac­ing sup­plies 410mm two-piece drilled ro­tors with monobloc six­pis­ton calipers; out back, 372mm two-piece cross-drilled ro­tors, with monobloc four-pis­ton calipers.

These are, per­haps no sur­prise, the best brakes we've ever ex­pe­ri­enced on an HSV and are gen­uinely from su­per­car land, with out­stand­ing feel and power, matched well to the slightly wider (than Club­sport, by 0.5-inch) 9.0inch front wheels with 255/35 Con­ti­nen­tal Con­tiS­portCon­tact 5Ps. With warm tyres in the dry, these are brakes that you keep press­ing, press­ing, press­ing, wait­ing for some ABS, but then bail­ing out be­cause it feels wrong that such a heavy car should be stand­ing so hard on its nose. But it does, and hap­pily.

Trac­tion from the rear 275s is equally im­pres­sive. You can feed the rear tyres far more of the 6.2litre LSA V8's 435kW/740Nm than you should be able to. While we didn't per­for­mance-test this man­ual ex­am­ple this time around, it feels strong and it feels quick. We got a 4.14sec 0-100km/h and 12.19sec at 189.17km/h out of a GTSR Maloo last is­sue. The best we've got from a Gen-F GTS is a fluke-y 4.31sec and 12.37sec. This car? Per­haps it would match the Maloo in per­fect con­di­tions. In­ter­est­ingly HSV claims the 474kW/815Nm W1 should do 4.2sec. Our own testing of a W1 yielded a best of 4.5sec.

A lot of that has to do with the man­ual 'box, and while we nor­mally cau­tion against the three-pedal model in HSVs, in the GTSR's case it's the one we'd get. Our test car, while fit­ted with a spec of the al­most ubiq­ui­tous mus­cle car man­ual 'box, the Tre­mec TR6060, slot­ted gears with a sweet­ness we've not felt from it be­fore, mak­ing it a plea­sure around town and on a twisty road. Still a slight work­out to use, but you also save $2500.

The GTSR's ride, with Mag­netic Ride Con­trol, is spook­ily good, too, in Sport mode (RIP Tour mode), with a lovely long-stroke waft along the high­way and com­pli­ance on bumpy city roads. (Why can HSV get the ride right but AMG can't with its

C63 et al? Bizarre.) And it makes the GTSR an easy com­pan­ion for the daily drive.

With huge, ad­dic­tive power, great trac­tion, in­cred­i­ble brakes and gen­er­ous lat­eral grip, the Gen-F2 GTSR is ab­so­lutely a car you leave home at 5am on a Sun­day morn­ing in for far-flung great roads. It's fun, it's sat­is­fy­ing, it's ex­cit­ing/ter­ri­fy­ing de­pend­ing on your ex­pe­ri­ence level, still able to throt­tle-steer out of tight cor­ners with help from a world­class ESP sys­tem. Yet it's pos­si­ble to nit-pick the GTSR a lit­tle bit.

An LS3 SS Com­modore sounds bet­ter, HSV cre­at­ing a meaty and sat­is­fy­ing tailpipe bur­ble at idle and roar at full throt­tle, but still hasn't done any­thing about the un­pleas­ant coarse in­duc­tion noise that's dogged (to our ears) LSA HSVs since day dot. That's not to say this car sounds bad; it sounds good, but could be bet­ter.

This is as good as steer­ing has ever been on a VF Com­modore but that's still not say­ing a huge amount; a C63's steer­ing will still shade it, as will that of many other cars. It's hardly a deal breaker.

This is also a ter­ri­fy­ingly thirsty car. It's like ev­ery time you glance at the fuel gauge it's moved a few mil­lime­tres, even dur­ing nor­mal driv­ing. It has a 71-litre fuel tank.

One could also ar­gue $109K for a Com­modore is also stretch­ing the friend­ship. That's twice (!) the MSRP of a man­ual 304kW SS-V Red­line, it­self a plen­ti­fully fast car.

Yet it's still some­how jus­ti­fi­able for us. Maybe it's the 12mm wider (per side) pumped front guards. Or the way it looks. But mostly, it's just how it makes us feel.

GTSR's Al­can­tarawrapped wheel and knob (left) a $1590 op­tion (stan­dard on W1) but makes the cabin feel a lot more spe­cial

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