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Car reviews - HSV - GXP - range

Launch Story

24 Feb 2010

HOLDEN Special Vehicles has wound back the clock with a limited-edition entry-level E2 priced like a VX ClubSport of a decade ago.

The cut-price GXP is HSV’s response to the global financial crisis, and comes in at $61,990 for the ClubSport GXP sedan and $55,990 for the Maloo GXP ute. Both prices include driveaway costs which HSV estimates are worth about $5000.

That means the models are about $9000 cheaper than the ClubSport R8 and Maloo R8.

HSV’s new entry level program is a direct result of Holden’s now deceased US export drive and the sedan is essentially the same as the high-performance Pontiac GXP that sold in limited numbers before General Motors killed off the brand last year.

Rather than waste all that costly engineering work, HSV decided to take much of the Pontiac package, add some of its own features and use it as a new entry level model.

In recognition of this, it kept the GXP name. HSV decided to also offer a GXP ute, which was never made for Pontiac. HSV says the GXP program is a limited production run of 400 sedans and 350 utes, which is not an insignificant number given HSV sold only 2870 cars last year. The company would not rule out producing similar models in the future, although they might not run the GXP name.

The GXP runs the same mechanical package as other HSV models, barring the GTS.

That means an LS3 6.2-litre small-block V8 generating 317kW at 6000rpm and 550Nm at 4600rpm.

Like the other models, the GXP variants come standard with a six-speed manual while a six-speed automatic is available for an extra $2000.

HSV has not provided an official 0-100km/h sprint time, but there is nothing to suggest the GXP sedan would be any longer than the ClubSport R8 which does that run in just 4.9 seconds.

The GXP models look identical to the ClubSport and Maloo versions from the front end.

There is the same vented bonnet, bumper and air dam as well as the guard vents. HSV has also included the front bumper-mounted LED daytime running lights.

The GXP also comes with metal-look wing mirrors and chrome door handles.

From the side, the GXP can be identified by its 19-inch alloy you may recognise from the previous E1 range.

Both the sedan and ute look more like a Commodore than an HSV from the rear. While other HSV models runs unique HSV LED tail lights, the GXP sedan and ute both make do with the standard Commodore tail lights.

The GXP does have a unique lower rear fascia with diffuser, two aluminium exhaust tips and a subtle rear bootlid spoiler.

GXP utes run a soft tonneau cover with HSV logo, instead of the lockable hard tonneau of the Maloo.

The interior is identical to the ClubSport R8 and Maloo. That means the Calais centre console with colour information screen, extra gauges at the top of the centre stack and HSV instrument cluster.

Wrap-around cloth seats come straight from the ClubSport R8 and Maloo. HSV has moved to prevent GXP customers from upgrading the seats to leather by not offering that option.

The GXP sedan uses the same suspension that Holden engineers set-up for the Pontiac GXP, which has unique springs and dampers.

Given that no Pontiac GXP ute was developed, HSV had to come up with its own solution for its ute.

It left the Commodore SS front springs and dampers alone, but wanted to do something about the rear end, which it felt sat up too high. The solution was to fit the rear suspension architecture from the Maloo ute, but retain the SS dampers.

HSV fitted both the sedan and ute with the premium Brembo brakes with four-piston front callipers latching on to 355mm ventilated discs. On the rear, single-piston callipers grab 324mm discs at the rear.

HSV has limited the options to a sunroof, satellite navigation, roof-mounted DVD for the sedan, a spare wheel (instead of the pump repair kit) and rear parking sensors.

HSV managing director Phil Harding said the GXP was a good fit for the HSV range.

“It was always our objective to find a solution for the model that sat below the ClubSport R8,” he said.

“GXP provided a very strong opportunity.”

Asked if introducing an HSV that missed out on the unique rear styling that was introduced with the E1 range, was a step backward, Mr Harding replied: “We put a lot of effort into differentiation with both E1 and E2. It is a step backward? I don’t think so, but it is a different step.” Given the GXP has the same engine, brakes and interior as the ClubSport R8 and Maloo, sales cannibalisation is a possibility, but HSV sales and marketing manager Darren Bowler does not think so.

“I don’t think it will affect ClubSport R8 sales,” he said. “This is a new car at a new price point and it will attract new buyers.

“We believe this will bring people to the brand for the first time and there is still that stretch to go that bit further and get into the ClubSport R8.”

HSV denies the GXP is its answer to the Ford Performance Vehicles price leader GS model, which slotted in beneath the GT last year.

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