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Car reviews - HSV - ClubSport - LS3 V8 range

Launch Story

13 May 2008

HOLDEN Special Vehicles is bucking the trend toward downsizing by switching to an even bigger V8. The performance outfit has upgraded is VE-based E-Series range with a 6.2-litre LS3 V8 straight out of the crate from the US.

The new engine delivers 10kW more power, but no more torque than the 6.0-litre LS2 engine it replaces. It generates a hefty total of 317kW at 6000rpm and 550Nm at 4600Nm, giving it the title of the most powerful Australian-made vehicle, pipping the upcoming Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) GT by just 2kW.

When it comes to torque, the new HSV LS3 produces 1Nm less than the GT and 15Nm less than FPV’s F6 turbo.

The engine has the potential to produce more torque, but HSV was forced to limit the maximum torque figure to 550Nm because that is the maximum that the automatic transmission and differential is rated for.

The LS3 engine, which is currently serving in the Chevrolet Corvette, will also be fitted to HSV cars exported to the UK and the Middle East as well as the Commodore-base Pontiac GXP in the US. It uses an alloy block and head, but is still a pushrod design.

While the figures suggest the LS3 is only a minor step forward from the LS2, the changes are considerable. They include high-flow cylinder-heads, valvetrain revisions including a larger hollow intake valve, stronger block, higher flow injectors and intake manifold and new pistons.

GM has increased the bore to 103.25 mm, but the stroke remains at 92.0mm.

While the Gen IV V8 fitted to the Commodore range will be soon upgraded with displacement-on-demand technology, which can deactivate three cylinders to save fuel when cruising, no such feature is available for the LS3.

HSV engineers have recalibrated the six-speed automatic transmission to take advantage of the new engine’s characteristics for faster shifts and more intuitive responses to driver input.

The existing six-speed manual gearbox continues, with all HSV cars now running a new large transmission cooler mounted in the grille.

Fuel economy figures for HSV cars fitted with the LS3 are up slightly or down slightly depending on the selected model.

The ClubSport R8, GTS and Senator automatics use 0.1L/100km more for a total of 14.5L/100km and the R8 and GTS figures are up by the same amount for a total of 15.3L/100km.

Fitted to the WM Grange, the LS3 uses 0.2L less for a total of 15L/100km, the R8 auto uses 0.2L less for 14.7L/100km and the Maloo R8 manual uses 0.1L less for a total of 15.7l/100km.

HSV has not changed anything else on the cars, except for a slight revision to the paint palette and a new set of optional wheels.

The rims, which measure a massive 20 inches, had previously been available on the GTS but are now available on other models for $2500.

The company has also changed the brake calliper colour on its Senator Signature and Grange from red to silver in response to customers who wanted a more understated look.

Prices across the range have risen by 1.3 per cent and 2.8 per cent with the upgrade. The range starts off with the Maloo R8 ute at $61,550, while the ClubSport R8 is the first of the sedans at $64,550 and the GTS is $76,990.

Optioning an automatic on these models adds $2200. The automatic-only Senator Signature costs $79,190 and the long-wheelbase Grange is $84,690.

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