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The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - MAS­CU­LINE:

Lo­cal en­gi­neer­ing has gone a long way to over­com­ing what is an old­fash­ioned lump of V8 un­der the hood. The 325kW and 550Nm is more than driv­ers will ever need on the road. Adding to the im­age is the lat­est LPG in­jec­tion sys­tem, with­out the gas. The nat­u­ral fuel is in­jected into the cylin­ders in liq­uid form. HSV calls it Liq­uid Propane In­jec­tion; own­ers who tick the op­tion will call it a brag­ging point.

There’s no dis­cernible loss of power, and big fuel sav­ings, as the LPI pro­vides the go up to 5300 revs, af­ter which the pre­mium un­leaded petrol takes over.

Toss in a blind spot alert sys­tem, self-lev­el­ling xenon head­lights, a bi­modal ex­haust sys­tem and a mag­netic ride con­trol sus­pen­sion kit that no­tice­ably changes the ve­hi­cle’s at­ti­tude around cor­ners and the Grange starts to look like a smart pack­age in­deed.

De­sign

The Grange is vis­ually the most re­fined of the HSV range and a def­i­nite im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous model. The front end is ei­ther overtly mas­cu­line or a a touch too much boy racer, depend­ing on who you’re talk­ing to. The day­time run­ning lights help soften the ef­fect and from side or rear-on it looks more lux­u­ri­ous than ‘‘look-at-me’’.

HSV’s chief of de­sign and styling is, not sur­pris­ingly, a fan.

‘‘We have made the Grange a more dy­namic look­ing car, and the update delivers greater on-road pres­ence,’’ he says.

‘‘It def­i­nitely still re­tains the classy ap­pear­ance and pro­por­tions that you ex­pect from a lux­ury per­for­mance car; how­ever, we have added a few more mas­cu­line-look­ing de­tails like the DRLs and the shock­wave-in­spired ex­haust tips.’’

Safety

The driver-aid acronyms – ABS with EBA and BFD, ESC and STC – are all stan­dard kit on the Grange. The dif­fer­ence is in the cal­i­bra­tion, with the HSV al­low­ing a bit of lee­way be­fore the elec­tron­ics in­ter­vene. It’s enough to be fun with­out get­ting into trou­ble.

The self-lev­el­ling xenon head­lights cast a mas­sive spread of light even at 110km/h and the four-pis­ton brakes aren’t likely to fade this side of a race­track.

Driv­ing

It isn’t hard to find a com­fort­able driv­ing po­si­tion in the long-wheel­base HSV and the leather-trimmed seats do a rea­son­able job of hold­ing you in place as the pace picks up. The flat­bot­tomed steer­ing wheel helps here, too, but the sporty styled wheel isn’t matched with a quick enough rack, mean­ing driv­ers can’t turn through a 90-de­gree corner with­out shuf­fling their hands, which de­feats the pur­pose.

A re­vers­ing cam­era with over­laid guide­lines com­ple­ments the stan­dard park­ing sen­sors and makes ma­noeuvr- ing the big car a rel­a­tive breeze, but it’s on the open road where the Grange jus­ti­fies its ex­is­tence.

Over­tak­ing is sim­ply a press of the pedal away and switch­ing the sus­pen­sion from lux­ury to sports mode gives you con­fi­dence to tackle the most chopped-up roads. It’s not go­ing to out­run or out­handle a Porsche, but try fit­ting five peo­ple into a 911.

The only crit­i­cism is that un­like its Euro ri­vals, the auto head­lights don’t ac­ti­vate when the car is un­locked.

Ver­dict

A wor­thy lo­cal con­tender in the lux­ury per­for­mance mar­ket that can only be ri­valled by the FPV in the value-for­money stakes.

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