HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) will send homegrown Australian car manufacturing
off with a bang this year, dishing up the most powerful, most technologically
advanced and most expensive Aussie sedan in the 69 years since Holden pioneered
the all-Australian car.
Armed with a supercar-like 474kW of power and 815Nm of torque from
its supercharged 6.2-litre LS9 V8, the limited-edition HSV GTSR W1 will cap a
reworked 2017 range that includes the return of the GTSR after two decades and
a flock of 30th anniversary specials for the final year of production before
HSV switches to modifying imported cars in 2018.
Starting in April, just 300 of the flagship GTSR W1 sedans will be built, with
most already spoken for and many going straight into muscle car collections
where they will serve as a reminder of what the Australian motor industry could
HSV managing director Tim Jackson said his company did not want to “go quietly
into the night” when Holden’s local production of Commodore – the base car for
HSV’s high-performance range – finishes in October this year.
“We did not want to do a small exit from the Zeta platform – we wanted to do
something special,” he said.
Mr Jackson conceded that the design and engineering expenditure on the GTSR and
GTSR W1 – about $9 million – would normally be amortised over three to four
years of new-model production, not a matter of months.
But he said HSV customers had made it clear they wanted “something special,
collectible, iconic” as a last hurrah for the much-loved rear-wheel-drive V8
“We know it is a moment in time,” he said. “So we respected that.”
Priced at $169,990 plus on-road costs, the W1 is not only more expensive than
the previous HSV top-shelf offering, the $155,000 limited-edition 7.0-litre
W427 that debuted in 2008, but a healthy 99kW more powerful.
The 300 LS9 engines for the limited run of W1 for Australia and New Zealand –
plus a few extras for development and spares – came from a stockpile left over
from the sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 in the United States.
With the engine already out of production, HSV went on bended knee to General
Motors to ask for a large slice of the precious pile, believing the LS9 was
just the engine for its last VF Series II-based V8 special edition that was
conceived at least two and a half years ago.
GM apparently caught W1 fever too, helping out with the engine that features
lightweight forged aluminium pistons, forged titanium conrods, titanium inlet
valves, hollow-stem exhaust valves, a 2.3-litre supercharger, dry sump and
carbon-fibre air box. To fit the latter, the engineers had to tilt the radiator
backwards, as well as come up with a new oil tank design for the dry sump
return and re-engineer the exhaust system.
HSV engineers led by Joel Stoddart went to extraordinary lengths to give the W1
a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox from the Corvette, taking the
rear-mounted transaxle unit and modifying it for the Zeta platform’s
back-of-engine layout, complete with Zachs twin-plate clutch.
The manual-only W1 is said to be capable of sprinting from zero to 100km/h in
4.2 seconds – 0.3 seconds faster than HSV’s current champ, the 430kW GTS.
Test laps of Winton Raceway by race driver Warren Luff were completed in 1
minute 33.2 seconds – 4.4 seconds faster than the GTS.
Top speed will be electronically restricted to 250km/h, but HSV engineers say
that, theoretically, the W1 could reach 293km/h at 6600rpm in sixth gear.
Despite the high pricetag for the W1 – $60,500 more than the new GTSR and
$71,000 more than the GTS – Mr Jackson said he believed HSV had the right value
equation, adding: “It is not a gouging exercise.”
For the first time since it was founded in 1987 by former British racing driver
Tom Walkinshaw in partnership with Holden, HSV has taken the trouble to design
bespoke front mudguards for the GTSR and GTSR W1, having them fashioned out of
plastic by the same company that produces its front fascias.
The project not only allowed HSV design director Julian Quincey to come up with
a new wheelarch flare design – “a beautiful Coke-bottle shape” – to suit the
fatter 20-inch wheels and wider track but also to shift the fender air vent
higher on the body and make it more horizontal.
The new mudguards blend with a new-look bumper and grille to be shared by the
born-again GTSR variants that also include a Maloo ute. A fresh-look rear
design includes a new diffuser punctuated by diamond-shape twin exhaust tips
and topped by a redesigned Aeroflow spoiler.
The “standard” GTSR will not only share the W1’s new body parts but get an
extra dose of power in its 6.2-litre LSA supercharged V8, courtesy of a
free-flowing air filter.
Now making 435kW (+5kW over GTS), the LSA engine in the GTSR can be had with a
choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
The GTSR and GTSR W1 sit on forged alloy 20-inch wheels that are nine inches
wide at the front and 10 inches wide at the back. The W1’s wheels are finished
in matte black while the GTSR gets a dark chrome look.
While the GTSR is shod with road-going Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres,
the GTSR W1’s comes with track-oriented Pirelli P Zero Trofeo rubber.
Sitting within the wheels of all GTSRs are enormous brake rotors – 410mm on the
front – grabbed by six-piston monobloc callipers from AP Racing.
The brakes deliver a 25 per cent greater pad swept area but are 10 per cent
The W1 gets purposeful coil-over springs and dampers from SupaShock – the
company that supplies the Walkinshaw Supercar teams with race suspension – in
place of the Magnetic Ride Control semi-active suspension of the GTSR.
Like other models in the 2017 HSV range, the GTSR and its W1 spinoff get a
throaty new exhaust note after HSV relaxed the bi-model system’s nanny controls.
Externally, the GTSR W1 is set apart by liberal use of carbon-fibre on features
such as the rear spoiler, front splitter and side vents, while the GTSR uses
Inside, all GTSR variants get a new sports seat design, called Podium, cloaked
in diamond-stitched Alcantara. As well, the W1 gets a similarly finished
steering wheel and gear knob.
For the record, fuel economy is rated at 16.5 litres per 100km on the combined
cycle, 0.8L/100km higher than the GTS.