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Car reviews - HSV - E Series 3 - range

Launch Story

HSV logo22 Sep 2010

By RON HAMMERTON

HOLDEN Special Vehicles buyers will get a brace of electronic gizmos to enhance the driving experience – but no extra performance and minimal styling tweaks – with the refreshed E Series 3 range, in exchange for a $1000 price rise on six of the seven models.

In a first for an Australian manufacturer, all HSV E3 sedans, Tourer wagons, Maloo utes and long-wheelbase Grange models will get HSV’s new Enhanced Driver Interface (EDI) that allows the driver to access performance data such as lap times and G-forces – V8 Supercar-style – and control a range of vehicle functions.

Reverse camera with rear park assist, satellite-navigation and – like the just-revealed Holden Commodore VE Series II on which the HSV models are based – touch-screen audio system are also now standard fare.

As GoAuto has reported, HSV buyers can also tick the box for the optional blind-spot alert system ($1990) – which is standard on Grange – as well as the Australian-developed dual-fuel liquid propane injection (LPI) system (from $5990).

But as expected, HSV has resisted the temptation to ramp up the performance of its Chevrolet-sourced 325kW LS3 6.2-litre V8 engine to match the forthcoming 335kW ‘Miami’ 5.0-litre supercharged V8 from arch-rival Ford Performance Vehicles for its upgraded GT.

Instead, HSV will stick with the existing 317kW/550Nm and 325kW/550Nm versions of its venerable pushrod V8, which is expected to be superseded by an all-new small-block engine now under development by General Motors for launch in the next couple of years.

HSV has also dispensed with its limited-edition Pontiac G8-inspired ClubSport GXP, meaning the entry-level point for an HSV sedan effectively jumps almost $6000.

This means the ClubSport R8 again becomes the most affordable HSV sedan, at $67,600 for the six-speed manual version (plus $2000 for the six-speed auto) – up from the GXP’s $61,900.

The ClubSport R8 pricing undercuts (by $290) FPV’s current but soon to be superseded 5.4-litre V8 GT and turbocharged six-cylinder F6 – both listed at $67,890. Those Ford prices are expected to change little, if anything, with the launch of the new range next month.

FPV could steal a march on its rival with the entry-level GS, powered by a 315kW version of Ford’s supercharged V8, which is expected to hit the market at about $55,000 – more than $12,000 under HSV’s cheapest sedan.

The cheapest HSV model remains the Maloo R8 ute, at $64,600, which has had a price hike of $1000, like most of the other models.

The exception to HSV’s $1000-price-rise rule is the sports-luxo Senator Signature, which goes up only $560, to $83,990 for both manual and automatic models.

But the biggest tick for value improvement goes to the Grange, which not only gets all the other improvements of the short-wheelbase models but also gains the GTS’s premium 335kW engine, new front and rear fascias and blind-spot alert system as standard equipment, for a price rise of $1000, to $88,900.

All HSV buyers will get to play with the new HDI system that was developed in partnership with race technology company MoTec.

Like Garth Tander’s race engineer, drivers will be able to play with a wide range of data recorded by system sensors and even download it onto a laptop computer via a USB stick and MoTec software.

The functions are divided into 11 pages that include g-forces, race page, stopwatch, dynamic, fuel economy and so on. The race page uses GPS to record track lap times, with several Australian race circuits, including Mount Panorama, already installed.

The driver can also adjust certain vehicle functions. For example, they can select the bi-modal exhaust setting to their preference for noise and turn off the blind spot warning device that alerts the driver to any car in the dangerous rear-three-quarter zone when changing lanes.

The warning device, which flashes a red LED light to warn if a vehicle is detected, uses an ultra sound system – similar to parking sensors – instead of more expensive radar as used in premium German cars.

HSV fans looking for major styling advances will be disappointed, as most of the changes have been confined to the interior.

A new, flatter rear spoiler has been fitted to both the best-selling ClubSport R8 and performance-leading GTS, mainly to aid rear visibility.

This spoiler also rides on supports that carry over the so-called “shockwave” shape of the twin exhaust tips, which also have come in for a tweak on all models except Maloo and Sportwagon-based Tourer.

The chrome exhaust tips are now mounted in the rear fascia instead of attached to the exhaust pipes, delivering a flusher fit.

The real changes are inside the cabin, where HSV has taken advantage of a revamp for Holden’s donor Commodore to step up interior design and equipment levels.

The new touch-screen for the EDI system, sat-nav and audio controls is higher on the dash than previous screens and is surrounded by piano-black trim in a new-look dash that includes, for the first time, an HSV-unique instrument layout that the company dubs ‘Oracle’.

Above the centre console, a new instrument binnacle holds gauges in the HSV tradition.

Each E3 model gets a machined stainless-steel nameplate on the centre console, while GTS and Senator get twin-stitch seat leather and a new red seat trim option called Turismo Rosso ($1499).

Four new exterior colours have been added – Hazard Yellow, Alto Grey, dark red Sizzle, and Mirage Glow beige, with the latter only available on Senator and Grange.

HSV managing director Phil Harding said the changes elevate the HSV range to a new level of sophistication and continues the company’s long history of innovation.



“Our E3 range is an example of HSV’s passion for innovation and determination to bring world leading technology to vehicles,” he said.

Mr Harding said HSV customers were showing a greater interest in new technology and had expressed a desire for unique points of difference in their vehicles.

Among these technologies is the optional petrol-LPG LPI system – developed in league with Australian engineering company Orbital – that delivers a 15 per cent cut in CO2 emissions and, because LPG is considerably cheaper at the bowser, up to 50 per cent fuel cost savings.

On cold starts, the system starts on petrol like Holden’s conventional gaseous LPG, then switches to LPG when warm.

The LPG is delivered by the latest liquid injection system straight into the inlet port, but because HSV was concerned about durability of the engine valves at high revs when subjected to “harsh” LPG fuel, the engine switches back to petrol from between 4000 and 4500rpm, depending on the load, to deliver the same maximum power and torque as standard petrol-only LS3 V8s.

HSV says the switch between fuels is seamless.

The LPI system costs $5990 on HSV sedans, but $6390 on Maloo because the ute requires a special tub-liner to protect the LPG tank. The system is not available on the ClubSport Tourer R8 because the bulky tank cannot be accommodated.

The new HSV models are due in showrooms from the end of September.

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