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Driven: HSV reveals 474kW GTSR W1 sledgehammer

Cop that: Rather than go out with a whimper, HSV has gone all-out to develop a 474kW/815Nm super-sedan, the GTSR W1, as a last hurrah for the Aussie large car breed.

Most potent HSV road sedan ever – the GTSR W1 – to farewell the big Aussie V8 era


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1 Feb 2017

HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) will send homegrown Australian car manufacturing off with a bang this year, dishing up the most powerful, most technologically advanced and most expensive Aussie sedan in the 69 years since Holden pioneered the all-Australian car.

Armed with a supercar-like 474kW of power and 815Nm of torque from its supercharged 6.2-litre LS9 V8, the limited-edition HSV GTSR W1 will cap a reworked 2017 range that includes the return of the GTSR after two decades and a flock of 30th anniversary specials for the final year of production before HSV switches to modifying imported cars in 2018.

Starting in April, just 300 of the flagship GTSR W1 sedans will be built, with most already spoken for and many going straight into muscle car collections where they will serve as a reminder of what the Australian motor industry could achieve.

HSV managing director Tim Jackson said his company did not want to “go quietly into the night” when Holden’s local production of Commodore – the base car for HSV’s high-performance range – finishes in October this year.

“We did not want to do a small exit from the Zeta platform – we wanted to do something special,” he said.

Mr Jackson conceded that the design and engineering expenditure on the GTSR and GTSR W1 – about $9 million – would normally be amortised over three to four years of new-model production, not a matter of months.

But he said HSV customers had made it clear they wanted “something special, collectible, iconic” as a last hurrah for the much-loved rear-wheel-drive V8 HSV dynasty.

“We know it is a moment in time,” he said. “So we respected that.”

Priced at $169,990 plus on-road costs, the W1 is not only more expensive than the previous HSV top-shelf offering, the $155,000 limited-edition 7.0-litre W427 that debuted in 2008, but a healthy 99kW more powerful.

The 300 LS9 engines for the limited run of W1 for Australia and New Zealand – plus a few extras for development and spares – came from a stockpile left over from the sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 in the United States.

With the engine already out of production, HSV went on bended knee to General Motors to ask for a large slice of the precious pile, believing the LS9 was just the engine for its last VF Series II-based V8 special edition that was conceived at least two and a half years ago.

GM apparently caught W1 fever too, helping out with the engine that features lightweight forged aluminium pistons, forged titanium conrods, titanium inlet valves, hollow-stem exhaust valves, a 2.3-litre supercharger, dry sump and carbon-fibre air box. To fit the latter, the engineers had to tilt the radiator backwards, as well as come up with a new oil tank design for the dry sump return and re-engineer the exhaust system.

HSV engineers led by Joel Stoddart went to extraordinary lengths to give the W1 a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox from the Corvette, taking the rear-mounted transaxle unit and modifying it for the Zeta platform’s back-of-engine layout, complete with Zachs twin-plate clutch.

The manual-only W1 is said to be capable of sprinting from zero to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds – 0.3 seconds faster than HSV’s current champ, the 430kW GTS.

Test laps of Winton Raceway by race driver Warren Luff were completed in 1 minute 33.2 seconds – 4.4 seconds faster than the GTS.

Top speed will be electronically restricted to 250km/h, but HSV engineers say that, theoretically, the W1 could reach 293km/h at 6600rpm in sixth gear.

Despite the high pricetag for the W1 – $60,500 more than the new GTSR and $71,000 more than the GTS – Mr Jackson said he believed HSV had the right value equation, adding: “It is not a gouging exercise.”

For the first time since it was founded in 1987 by former British racing driver Tom Walkinshaw in partnership with Holden, HSV has taken the trouble to design bespoke front mudguards for the GTSR and GTSR W1, having them fashioned out of plastic by the same company that produces its front fascias.

The project not only allowed HSV design director Julian Quincey to come up with a new wheelarch flare design – “a beautiful Coke-bottle shape” – to suit the fatter 20-inch wheels and wider track but also to shift the fender air vent higher on the body and make it more horizontal.

The new mudguards blend with a new-look bumper and grille to be shared by the born-again GTSR variants that also include a Maloo ute. A fresh-look rear design includes a new diffuser punctuated by diamond-shape twin exhaust tips and topped by a redesigned Aeroflow spoiler.

The “standard” GTSR will not only share the W1’s new body parts but get an extra dose of power in its 6.2-litre LSA supercharged V8, courtesy of a free-flowing air filter.

Now making 435kW (+5kW over GTS), the LSA engine in the GTSR can be had with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

The GTSR and GTSR W1 sit on forged alloy 20-inch wheels that are nine inches wide at the front and 10 inches wide at the back. The W1’s wheels are finished in matte black while the GTSR gets a dark chrome look.

While the GTSR is shod with road-going Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, the GTSR W1’s comes with track-oriented Pirelli P Zero Trofeo rubber.

Sitting within the wheels of all GTSRs are enormous brake rotors – 410mm on the front – grabbed by six-piston monobloc callipers from AP Racing.

The brakes deliver a 25 per cent greater pad swept area but are 10 per cent lighter.

The W1 gets purposeful coil-over springs and dampers from SupaShock – the company that supplies the Walkinshaw Supercar teams with race suspension – in place of the Magnetic Ride Control semi-active suspension of the GTSR.

Like other models in the 2017 HSV range, the GTSR and its W1 spinoff get a throaty new exhaust note after HSV relaxed the bi-model system’s nanny controls.

Externally, the GTSR W1 is set apart by liberal use of carbon-fibre on features such as the rear spoiler, front splitter and side vents, while the GTSR uses gloss-black trim.

Inside, all GTSR variants get a new sports seat design, called Podium, cloaked in diamond-stitched Alcantara. As well, the W1 gets a similarly finished steering wheel and gear knob.

For the record, fuel economy is rated at 16.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, 0.8L/100km higher than the GTS.

2017 HSV GTSR range pricing*
GTSR Maloo$96,990
GTSR Maloo (a)$99.490
GTSR (a)$111,990
GTSR W1$169,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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