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Car reviews - HSV - E Series 2 - range

Launch Story

HSV logo22 Sep 2009

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

THE hottest Holden money can buy comes from HSV, and with the introduction of the new HSV E Series 2 the thermometer has been bumped up several notches.

Keeping one step ahead of Holden’s own hot Commodores has not always been easy for the Tom Walkinshaw-owned company, as Holden has improved and diversified its own performance models over the years.

Now, the HSV E Series 2 has moved the VE-based performance range well above its Holden counterpart. Never in a standard-line model – except possibly the Calloway V8-powered VT GTS – has HSV been able to gain so much clear air between its cars and the Holden products, and never before at such relatively minor price premium.

Unlike the VT GTS, the E Series 2 is not primarily about kilowatts. Here we have big styling and feature changes too.

The hero model of the new line-up, the GTS, now has an 8kW power advantage over the rest of the HSV E Series 2 range, moving up to 325kW, thanks to engine management changes and a higher-flow intermediate exhaust system. HSV achieved this at no cost to average fuel consumption the GTS averages the same 13.9L/100km (auto) and 14.8L/100km (manual) as the ClubSport R8.

The GTS also gets what HSV calls an active bi-modal exhaust that opens a port in the rear muffler at certain revs to reduce back pressure and improve sound. The GTS also has re-calibrated Magnetic Ride Control, along with stiffer springs and wider front track.

All models across the range except the long-wheelbase Grange get fresh styling with daytime running lights. The ClubSport R8, Maloo and GTS models have a twin-nostril bonnet from the now-defunct Pontiac GTO, and a new nose treatment that HSV calls a ‘shockwave graphic’.

The Senator Signature features a deeper grille treatment, while the ClubSport R8 sedan and GTS get a restyled rear bumper, with the same edgy styling accents as the front bumper.

New alloy wheels are fitted across the range, from 19x8in (front) and 19x8.5in (rear) wheels on the ClubSport R8 to 20x8.5in (front and 20x9.5in (rear) wheels on the GTS.

Technology has taken a step up with E Series 2. All models now have a Bosch 8.1 control module, which – according to HSV – allows the introduction of Extended Cruise Control. This system applies gentle braking pressure when it senses that a set speed is being exceeded by 1-2km/h.

HSV chief engineer Joel Stoddart said a test E Series 2 with the new system was lined up with a previous-model HSV, and while the new model held steady at a cruise-control-set 80km/h down a steep hill, the other car’s speed crept up before the driver applied the brakes. The new system will no doubt be a licence-saver.

Competition Mode ESC is also a new driver-selectable feature standard across the range, allowing the car more movement before the stability control, traction control or ABS systems intervene.

Intelligent Launch Control is standard on manual-transmission E Series 2s, providing the quickest possible acceleration off the mark. Operational only in Competition Mode, it requires the driver to press the throttle to the floor and step off the clutch: the system does the rest in managing traction control and torque output to maximise acceleration.

Rear suspension changes on all models include a new rear upper control arm bush for better stability under hard braking and acceleration – an issue with the previous model

While the main focus has been on improved performance and handling measures, HSV’s engineers also tweaked engine management and transmission software to improve fuel economy by making changes such as a reduced idle speed and adding a high-efficiency alternator with pulley clutch disengagement.

The benefit is a claimed 4.5 per cent consumption improvement, with the ClubSport R8, GTS and Senator Signature now achieving 13.9L/100km (auto) and 14.8L/100km (manual), with C02 emissions of 329g/km (auto) and 352g/km (manual).

The ClubSport R8 Tourer achieves 14.2L/100km (auto) and 15.0L/100km (manual) with 335 and 357g/km C02 emissions respectively while the Maloo R8 achieves 14.3L/100km (auto) and 15.1L/100km (manual) and C02 emissions of 338 and 357g/km respectively.

The auto only Grange achieves 14.2L/100km and C02 output is 335g/km.

HSV has introduced a range of new options under the ‘SV Enhanced’ moniker. These include six-piston front brake callipers offering 50 per cent more pad area for GTS ($3790). These are distinguished by their yellow paint, which is matched with yellow wheel insignias and a yellow SV Enhanced badge at the rear.

Other SV Enhanced options include a performance suspension upgrade for ClubSport R8 ($1850), bi-modal exhaust on ClubSport R8 sedan and ClubSport R8 Tourer, Maloo R8, Senator Signature and Grange ($2290).

An improved version of the DataDot anti-theft identification called DataDotDNA Platinum – introduced with the W427 last year – is now standard across the range.

ClubSport R8, ClubSport R8 Tourer and Maloo R8 retain the previous model pricing, while GTS and Senator Signature both go up $700.

The range has achoice of 12 colours, including Heron, Nitrate, Sting, Phantom, Evoke, Voodoo, Karma, Sandstorm, Atomic, Wildfire, Red Passion and Poison Ivy.

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