HSV CLUBSPORT R8 LSA ‘30 YEARS’
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