New models - HSV - SV300 - sedan
First drive: Series II HSVs hatched
HSV updates its sedan range with significant improvements but with a fairly insignificant price rise
26 Sep 2001
HOLDEN Special Vehicles has revealed its line-up of Series II VX, WH and VU performance models, with subtle but effective across-the-board changes echoing those pioneered by Holden in its Series II Commodore, Statesman and Ute range a month ago.
Due to make its public debut at the Sydney motor show on October 12, the revised HSV sedan range comes with significant improvements in suspension and tyre technology, fresher and better equipped interiors, and marginally increased pricing.
As with the updated Holden range, the biggest change is the adoption by all HSV models of what Holden calls Control Link Suspension, but will be known on HSVs as the Touring 2 Multi-link system.
Touring 2 is essentially the same system pioneered by HSV's flagship GTS sports sedan and replaces the previous HSV baseline suspension system called Touring.
The GTS has been discontinued and will not appear as part of the VXII HSV range until at least March, 2002, when it is expected to return with an increased level of technology - including the option of an automatic transmission - to further differentiate it from other HSVs.
For now, however, in place of GTS is a new limited-edition 300kW model dubbed the SV300, which joins HSV's updated range of XU-6, ClubSport, ClubSport R8, Maloo, Maloo R8, Senator Signature and Grange models.
The most significant Series II update is what HSV ambitiously describes as a multi-link rear suspension system, which can now be found underneath all Commodore and Statesman-based Holdens and HSVs except the Ute.
Essentially, Touring 2 incorporates an extra, adjustable arm that links both rear wheel uprights to the rear suspension subframe, thereby reducing the change in direction of the rear wheels (known as toe) during suspension movement from as much as six or seven degrees to just one degree.
The better located rear-end results in more stable high speed cornering and is aided by other tyre and suspension changes, including the addition of a 1mm thicker (28mm) front anti-roll bar aimed at producing safer, more understeer-oriented handling at the limit, along with revised shock absorber calibration.
Touring 2 suspension is fitted as standard to XU-6 and ClubSport models but a Performance specification is standard on ClubSport R8, Maloo R8 and Grange and includes firmer spring and damper rates, and a larger rear anti-roll bar for ClubSport R8 and the new SV300 model.
Senator's softer Luxury-spec suspension and Grange's Prestige set-up, which is softer again, receives similar changes, while all VXII HSVs now have a standard static toe specification of 2mm toe-in at the back.
Meanwhile, in what is claimed to be a world first, the updated HSV range includes the adoption of a specifically developed Bridgestone S-03 high performance tyre as original equipment.
The new rubber is designed to increase grip and ride quality, as well as reduce wear rates. A gruelling local test and development program resulted in a number of new technologies to improve grip, noise, wet weather and wear performance.
On top of HSV's objectives to improve handling/safety, security and the interior of each Series II model, all updated HSVs get Holden's Series II changes like black headlight bezels and new indicator/cruise stalks.
But there's also a new "255kW" badging, a new cloth trim design for base models, a new Anthracite leather trim option, new instrument design and graphics, chromed interior door handles, the option of the Holden Assist telematics system and, finally, an HSV-specific remote key pad.
All Series II HSVs will be re-numbered to increase their exclusivity and, in another first, each car now comes with "HSV DNA", which extends HSV's Embedded Security System to include the placement of some 10,000 data dots in secret locations on the car's body and components.
There is now also the option of the GTS's Quickshift short-throw gearshift for manual models and a Ro "HRT Heat Treated Premium Brake Option". Satellite navigation is a $3800 option for all HSVs except Maloo, as is a sunroof.
The ClubSport R8 benefits from the addition of Twilight Sentinel lighting as standard and, like Senator and Grange, now comes with the option of grey, blue, red or black leather Designer Interior colours.
Senator receives all of the VXII upgrades while VUII Maloo and Maloo R8 utility are only cosmetically upgraded.
The Grange adds a colour-coded grille to its WHII suspension, security and cosmetic improvements, and also gets new seating, standard Performance Brakes, Bosch rear proximity sensors, a wood/leather steering wheel and, like Senator, the addition of a centre rear headrest.
The new SV300 model is available with a six-speed manual transmission only. The 300kW car includes Premium Brakes, unique alloy wheels, specific Mustard anthracite leather, a unique grille and three colour choices: Phantom Black, Hackett Gold and HSV Racing Green. It will be limited in number to 100.
Pricing is up across the range, the increases as little as $405 for the Senator and as much as $2150 for the Grange. The SV300 retails for $94,950, up $2650 on the old GTS.
XU-6 $50,950 auto
ClubSport $57,350 manual, $58,390 auto
ClubSport R8 $66,950 auto/manual
Senator $76,500 auto/manual
SV300 $94,950 manual VUII pricing:
Maloo $48,825 auto/manual
Maloo R8 $55,780 auto/manual WHII pricing:
Grange $84,500 auto
DRIVE IMPRESSIONS:INTERIOR changes for the updated HSV range are subtle but a new instrument design and graphics, new cloth and leather trims, and chromed door handles do lift the level of cabin ambience.
But only train-spotters will appreciate the exterior changes with new badging, bezelled headlights and a body-coloured grille the only discernible updates.
Clearly the biggest improvement is in terms of ride and handling. Like Series II Holdens, all HSV cars now feel better tied down at the rear, showing less of a tendency toward passive steering from the rear-end through better location of the rear wheels - particularly in high speed cornering situations.
The extra rear end stability and more neutral overall handling will allow enthusiast drivers to more confidently tap into the enormous reserves of performance all Chev-engined HSVs are capable of.
The better sorted suspension also translates to greater steering feel and precision, the other area that has been generally regarded as a Commodore shortcoming. Suspension changes associated with the extra toe-control link also mean the improvement in ride for Grange and Senator models is as marked as the improvement in outright grip and handling is in HSV's sports models.
Another change that did not even rate a mention in either Holden or HSV's Series II press blurb is the subtle improvement to the GM Powertrain four-speed automatic transmission, which is specified by the vast majority of HSV buyers. HSVs have picked up all of Holden's Series II changes aimed at better matching the Gen III's engine calibration to the auto, while HSV continues with its sportier shift points.
There is still a whine from within the transmission during the second-third gearchange and though there is still a marked delay between ratios, all shifts are generally smoother - both up and down.
The faithful four-speed auto mated to Holden's 5.7-litre V8 has a superior torque rating to anything else that's suitable in the GM world and will be with us for many years to come, so it is fitting that the latest running change brings it a big step closer to matching the refinement offered by Ford's adaptive BTR auto.
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