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Car reviews - HSV - Tourer - R8 5-dr wagon

Launch Story

19 Dec 2008

HOLDEN Special Vehicles is back on the wagon train, releasing its first estate since the ill-fated Avalanche all-wheel-drive.

Before that model was introduced in 2005, HSV had also dabbled with wagons based on the traditional two-wheel-drive Commodores, but they also failed to gain sales traction. The VT Commodore-based Senator Signature of 1997 qualified as a true automotive flop, with just 27 managing to find homes.

HSV is confident its new wagon will be much more popular because it is now based on the short-wheelbase sedan rather than the more cumbersome long-wheelbase wagons of the past.

Called the HSV R8 Tourer, the new car is based on the ClubSport R8 sedan and uses the same running gear, including the 6.2-litre LS3 V8.

It costs $65,990, which represents a $1000 premium over the sedan version. This matches the premium a Holden customer pays for a Sportswagon over the sedan equivalent.

Just as Holden added a reverse parking camera to its wagon, HSV has also included the feature as standard equipment in the Tourer.

The front of the Tourer is exactly the same as the ClubSport R8, while the tail is still largely based on the SS Sportwagon. This deviates from the recent HSV policy of introducing its own unique tail-lights.

The company said it was not viable to redesign key Tourer components when it was not yet clear how popular it would be, but could be an option if the vehicle sells well.

The Tourer is 100kg heavier than the regular R8 ClubSport sedan, which means it tips the scales at a considerable 1936kg in automatic form. Due to this and the slightly different spread of weight, HSV engineers introduced a unique chassis tune and employed rear dampers from the Maloo ute.

The new damping and springs rates are said to make the Tourer is around 20 per cent stiffer than the sedan. HSV has not ruled out introducing this stiffer tune on the sedan at some stage in the future.

Like the R8 ClubSport, the Tourer sits on 19-inch alloy wheels, while 20-inch wheels are available as an option.

It runs the same brake set-up as all other HSVs, barring the upgraded W427, including four-piston calipers all round latching onto 365mm discs at the front and 350mm discs at the rear.

The HSV Tourer looks just like any other ClubSport at the front and, apart from its unique R8 rear seats, it is the same as the SS Sportwagon in the back.

That means HSV customers now have access to a cargo area of 895 litres with the rear seats in place, and a cavernous 2000 litres when the rear seats are folded down.

The rear seats, in a 60/40-split layout, can be folded down, which is a considerable improvement over the sedan's ski-port. A retractable luggage cover is standard, as are two shopping hooks and four D-ring tie-down points.

While the improved practicality is welcome, HSV owners will also appreciate the Tourer loses nothing when it comes to what is lurking underneath the bonnet.

It is the same LS3 engine that powers the sedan - a 6.2-litre all-aluminium V8 that manages to belt out 317kW at 6000rpm, despite running old-fashioned pushrods. The torque tally sits at 550Nm, which is available at 4600rpm.

The Tourer benefits from the new Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual, which has been rolled out across the range. A six-speed automatic transmission is also available as an option.

A unique electronic stability control tune was developed especially for the Tourer.

HSV is yet to set an official 0-100km/h time for the Tourer, but it doesn't expect the fast family car to be much slower than its sedan sibling.

When it comes to fuel economy, the Tourer has actually recorded a better average fuel economy rating than its sedan sibling, which is a surprise given its extra bulk.

It is a small saving - 0.2 litres per 100km for a total of 14.2L/100km for the automatic and 15.2 for the manual.

HSV said the difference is largely explained by the wagon's aerodynamics, which better suit the Australian fuel economy test.

The Tourer has the same towing rating as the sedan, which stands at 1600kg for a braked trailer.

HSV chief engineer Joel Stoddart said the Tourer delivered a drive experience worthy of the HSV badge despite its practicality.

"The driver should lose nothing," he said. "This looks, feels and smells just like a ClubSport, except that it has an extra door at the back."

HSV has no plans to export the Tourer further afield than New Zealand, deciding against selling it alongside the VXR version of the ClubSport sedan.

HSV managing director Phil Harding said British customers were already well catered for when it came to performance wagons.

"This kind of performance product, they want as a sedan not a wagon," he said.

HSV said it would build 163 Tourers this year, but had not decided on a production figure for next year.

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