New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - Words: Lach­lan Jones Photos: Adam Croy

There has been much writ­ten and said about the demise of the Aussie car in­dus­try. There is no deny­ing that it’s a damn shame. We farewelled the Fal­con late last year and, as we pre­pare to do the same to the Com­modore, we turn the spot­light onto its per­for­mance part­ner, Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles (HSV). What will be­come of one of our favourite tun­ing houses? Does the end of the Com­modore mean the end for HSV, too?

Short an­swer: no. HSV is re­main­ing tight-lipped about the guise of the next-gen­er­a­tion HSV and, in­stead, is con­cen­trat­ing on giv­ing the much-loved Com­modore plat­form the send-off it de­serves.

To mark this mon­u­men­tal chang­ing of the guard, as well as the 30th an­niver­sary of the HSV brand, it has pulled out all the stops to en­sure that its ocker swan­song is the best ever. The for­mula is fa­mil­iar: or­der a spec Com­modore from Holden; sprin­kle it with a bunch of go-fast, stop­faster, and look-good bits; and sell.

R8ing the per­for­mance

wick has been turned up a bit. The su­per­charged 6.2-litre en­gine now puts out 410kw (550hp) and 691Nm — the GTS sticks at the phe­nom­e­nal fig­ures of 435kw (583hp) and 740Nm from the same en­gine. To as­sist with cool­ing this grunt, the R8 is fit­ted with a stacked-plate en­gine-oil cooler and a stand-alone wa­ter-to-air charge-air cool­ing sys­tem fed via some se­ri­ous-look­ing vents and a re­designed front bumper and dif­fuser set-up. The stan­dard brakes are a Nascar-in­spired and -de­signed four-pot sys­tem de­vel­oped with the LSA power in mind.

That stun­ning su­per­charged scream only the LS en­gines can pro­vide now sends the big sedan from zero to 100kph in 4.6 sec­onds, and down the quar­ter-mile in 12.7 sec­onds.

The belly of the beast

With great power comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity, so, of course, there is the req­ui­site trac­tion con­trol in­cor­po­rated into the elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol (ESC), as well as other trick tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing lane-de­par­ture warn­ing, au­to­matic park as­sist, hill-start as­sist, and mag­netic ride con­trol — all with­out the grem­lins of ear­lier gen­er­a­tions. Now stan­dard across the HSV range are side-im­pact warn­ings on the wing mir­rors and a for­ward-col­li­sion warn­ing for when the guy in the rental Getz trav­el­ling at 70kph in the Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful out­ing in the pre­vi­ous VF2 (‘Gen F1’, in Hsv-speak), the LSA is be­ing rolled out to power the new Clubsport R8, although, this time, the

fast lane on the mo­tor­way gets a bit too close to your front bumper.

Torque vec­tor­ing uses the ESC sys­tem to de­tect when the ve­hi­cle is start­ing to un­der­steer and helps to cor­rect it. The sys­tem op­er­ates by trans­fer­ring torque across the rear axle from the inside wheel to the out­side wheel while cor­ner­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing, thereby caus­ing a ‘ro­ta­tional mo­ment’, act­ing on the body and help­ing to get the car through the cor­ner.

Com­fort for driver and pas­sen­gers is some­thing we ex­pect from any big Holden or HSV car, and the R8 hits the nail on the head. While the seats are big enough to hold those of us who have been mak­ing the most of the BBQ and beer fridge all sum­mer, they also pro­vide sup­port enough through the bends to en­sure that you’re not flung across the cabin.

Re­port­ing for duty

HSV rec­og­nizes that this car will mostly be used for daily du­ties such as tow­ing the boat, long-week­end road trips with the fam­ily, and sit­ting on mo­tor­ways with the masses. The R8 LSA at­tends to these roles eas­ily and well. In traf­fic, the elec­tric steer­ing is light enough in Per­for­mance mode not to be a bur­den, and the ride is com­fort­able and for­giv­ing of bad sur­faces. We un­der­stand a ter­rific torque curve pro­vides ex­cel­lent tow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and sta­bil­ity, cer­tainly aided by the wider track of this sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion VF.

Once the boat is in the shed and the kids are some­one else’s prob­lem, you have an op­por­tu­nity to turn your fam­ily com­muter into a track-bred, fire-breath­ing weapon. In a nod to the child­like state of mind that keeps us, the car peo­ple, en­ter­tained, there are end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to fid­dle around with dis­plays and set­tings, start­ing with the ever-fas­ci­nat­ing bi­modal ex­hausts. From the stan­dard Sport driv­ing mode, you flick into the Per­for­mance set­ting — the team at HSV rec­om­mends this as the stan­dard driv­ing set­ting — which opens up the bi­modal ex­haust at idle and en­ables the torque-vec­tor­ing sys­tem. One more turn of the cen­tral dial — which con­trols all per­for­mance set­tings — into Track mode, and you’ll sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the im­pact of the trac­tion sta­bil­ity con­trol in keep­ing the car in check.

At about this time, as you line up on the grid of your lo­cal cir­cuit — be­cause you’d only be us­ing Track mode at the track, of course — you’ll have to be­gin think­ing about how best the HSV En­hanced Driver In­ter­face (EDI) sys­tem will help you drive. The lap timer is great,

Once the boat is in the shed and the kids are some­one else’s prob­lem, you have an op­por­tu­nity to turn your fam­ily com­muter into a track-bred, fire-breath­ing weapon

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