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HSV uncovers details of new Gen-F series as showroom debut nears


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15 May 2013

HOLDEN Special Vehicles has officially uncovered its new VF Commodore-based Gen-F high-performance model range, including the mighty supercharged GTS flagship that was caught on camera in an exclusive exposé by GoAuto last week.

As already widely reported, Australia’s fastest production Commodore will feature a 430kW/740Nm supercharged 6.2-litre V8 under its bonnet, although HSV has now revealed that the jewel in the heavily upgraded Gen-F series will go on sale in September – three months after the rest of the range.

While most of HSV’s range of sedans, wagons, utes and long-wheelbase limousines will start to roll out of showrooms in mid-June, an engineering hiccup means its hero model – which can even park itself, with a little help – will not be available until later in the year (see separate story).

Much of the HSV’s sheetmetal still comes from Holden – including difficult-to-change, high-cost parts such as the aluminium bonnet and bootlid – but the new performance range wears a significantly reworked nose and rear end, upgraded brakes, cutting-edge suspension and all-new rubber to help it all stick to the road.

As we saw with the GTS in the final stages of development last week, the HSV range sports a design to give it a low, menacing stance on the road.

The non-executive cars retain the now-traditional twin-nostril grille of the previous range, sitting above a trapezoidal lower airdam that looks very similar to the mouth of the Ford Mondeo, only inverted.

HSV has used the long, curved line above the headlights to build up shape on the bumper on either side of the airdam, while big blacked-out inserts house the foglights and a strip of LED daytime running lights that stay on even when the headlights are activated to give a distinctive night-time signature.

The side profile remains very Commodore-like, with only a blacked-out cosmetic grille on the guard and, on higher models, changes to the rocker panel. The less-prominent wheelarches have given HSV a helping hand, with the now wider tyres filling the well much better than for previous generations.

Down the rear, twin-lens LED tail-lights continue with the HSV theme, and big, blacked-out diffusers, featuring the same deep-cut ‘V’ look as the front, house big chrome-tipped exhausts.

Standard features across the range reflect many of the running changes introduced to the VF Commodore, with a few HSV-inspired twists.

Carried across from Commodore are the MyLink entertainment system with – when it arrives later this year – satellite navigation, foglights, an electric parking brake, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors linked to a reversing camera, a blind-spot warning system that also lets the driver know if they are about to reverse into the path of an oncoming car, and even Holden’s semi-automated parking that can pick a spot and then automatically steer the car into it.

That self-steering ability is also a Commodore carry-over, with the large car picking up an electric assist system to help with fuel economy.

Buyers who opt for a six-speed automatic version of the HSV will also get remote starting so, on a hot day, the car will fire itself up and run the air-conditioner before you even get to the door.

HSV’s touches include a “driver preference dial” that allows the driver to select different suspension settings and steering weights, a launch control program for the six-speed manual cars, and 20-inch alloy wheels that shed kilos of weight despite growing to 8.5 inches in width down the front, and 9.5 inches down the rear. Brakes are also beefier, and wear bigger, harder compound pads.

The entry-level ClubSport, and its radically changed Maloo ute equivalent, come equipped with the LS3 6.2-litre V8 engine producing 317kW of power and 550Nm of torque.

Inside, there are cloth sports seats with four-way electric adjustment for the driver, and carbon-fibre-look trim. The instrument binnacle is completely redesigned for the HSV cars, including a much clearer tacho and speedo.

A pair of gauges mounted low on the centre console show battery voltage and oil pressure, while the centre console between the front seats houses a dial that allows the driver to easily switch between a newly introduced “touring” mode, a more performance-focused “sport” setting that weighs up the ClubSport’s steering, and a “competition” mode that winds back all the electronic aids.

The brakes run to four-piston forged aluminium callipers that alone cut half a kilogram of weight over the old cast units.

The entry-level Maloo is fitted with a soft tonneau cover instead of the hard cover provided for the higher-priced load-luggers.

Incidentally, the Maloo features a radically redesigned “sailplane” – the winged area behind the cockpit – to increase rearward visibility, which was identified as a bit of a problem in the E-Series it replaces.

Stepping up to the ClubSport R8 sedan, ute or wagon also introduces a mild change under the bonnet, with the LS3’s output stepping up to 325kW. Torque is unchanged at 550Nm.

The look changes slightly, too, with HSV side-skirts giving a more performance-honed edge and different alloy wheels individualising the look.

However, jump inside behind the wheel and more changes become apparent. Foremost is a swap to heavily bolstered leather front seats with eight-way adjustment.

The audio system now wears a more premium Bose badge, the wipers react automatically to any spots of rain, and the “Enhanced Driver Interface” that allows the driver to dial up various bits of performance-related information on the big colour screen now looks better with greatly enhanced graphics.

The ClubSport R8 also dips further into Commodore’s long list of driver enhancements, including a rear-end collision warning system with a lane departure alert, and a head-up display.

The ute gains a locking hard tonneau cover, and includes a more heavily sculpted sailplane behind the rear window A big change, though, is under the rear of the car. HSV has introduced its bi-modal exhaust that, at the flick of the driver preference dial, instantly turns the hum of the engine into a deeper growl. HSV refers to these as “quiet” and “loud” modes.

If buyers want, they can opt for a special SV version of the ClubSport R8 that dips into the Camaro engine parts bin.

The SV steps performance up to 340kW and 570Nm by using a bi-modal air intake that includes a flap to allow the intake to gulp in even more air.

It also gets some visual enhancements to the looks, including different skins on the wing mirrors, unique alloys and a signature bootlip spoiler, as well as extra badging.

The less-lairy Senator and carry-over long-wheelbase WM-based Grange executive models add the third generation of HSV’s magnetic ride control, which this time around includes an extra set of coils that can instantly reverse the polarity of the iron filings used to stiffen up the suspension.

Unlike the previous version, switching between the comfort and sport modes is instantaneous rather than having to wait for the polarity to slowly fade away.

Both lose the twin nostrils for a more corporate, chrome-ringed single grille, and gain niceties including heated sports seats, and wheels finished in a stainless-steel look.

They also both use the 340kW version of the LS3, including the bimodal intake and exhaust system.

But the late-arriving hero of the HSV range is the GTS.

It sports a “Made in Detroit” version of the 6.3-litre V8 straight out of a Chevrolet Camaro ZR1, but unlike anything else that has rolled out of the Holden performance arm’s Clayton factory.

Wearing an Eaton supercharger nestled between the big V8’s cylinder banks, it produces 430Nm of power – the fact it transposes two of the numbers on the 340kW engine is pure coincidence – and a truck-like 740Nm of torque.

As the showstopper of the HSV range, the GTS boasts a three-mode suspension setting that allows the driver to just enjoy the ride home after a day at the office, play on a twisty road or set a serious time at a racetrack.

With the extra performance comes an even beefier six-piston brakes package, although this time around the even larger front stoppers wrap around floating brake discs.

The GTS is also the first HSV model to take advantage of technology known as torque vectoring. Designed to help with cornering, the GTS’s electronics will use the brakes to grab the inside rear wheel mid-corner to stop it from spinning and, if it needs to, apply more power to the outside rear wheel to minimise the desire of the big car’s nose to slide wide off the road as it dissolves into understeer.

Similar to the rest of the Holden range, HSV’s default setting is to leave a tyre inflation kit in the HSV’s boot. A spare tyre is on the options list, but it is only a temporary unit, meant to help the driver limp to the nearest tyre shop.

Quite a few details about the new HSV line-up are still under wraps, such as kerb weights, overall weight savings over the outgoing models, the replacement cost of the all-new 20-inch Continental rubber, and the distance the bitumen-ripping GTS can travel between fills of premium unleaded fuel.

However, the car-maker says HSV owners aren’t interested in the question of fuel use, and more numbers will be available closer to the range’s June 16 launch.

A delay in the start of the supercharged LSA engine program means the GTS won’t be on sale in Australia until at least the business end of the football season – and the federal election – in September.

Prices are still a few weeks away, but GoAuto believes that Holden’s big-dollar cuts announced for the VF Commodore give HSV some room to bring its entry-level ClubSport into showrooms for less than the outgoing model’s $66,990 ask.

The GTS hero model is expected to raise the bar in terms of top-end pricing, but don’t expect it to soar too high.

HSV was stung by the stratospheric $155,500 pricetag on the limited-run W427 featuring a 7.0-litre V8 under the bonnet, so the cost of the supercharged GTS is a touchy subject.

However, given its performance numbers stacked up against some high-priced German rivals, GoAuto believes it won’t stretch past $95,000.

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