HSV GTS at Performance Car Of The Year 2008: Classic MOTOR

WHILE you may wonder what the extra weight and girth has done to the Clio, or whether an RX-8 with less power than the original can truly be called a GT, there’re no such ambiguities with the big locals in this mix.

This Performance Car Of The Year article was first published in MOTOR Magazine November 2008.

You lay down your cash for a HSV GTS and you won’t get any nasty surprises. Mind you, if you bought this here actual car, you might get quite a pleasant surprise because this is the fittest one we’ve sampled yet. 

2008-HSV-GTS-drive.jpgMaybe it was the extra miles on board or the fact that every one of those miles had been tough ones in the hands of the press, but whatever it was, HSVGO did just that. Down Cootamundra Airport’s 1.4km or so of blacktop, the GTS scorched from rest to the first 100 in 5.2 seconds.

And it only got stronger from there. The 400m came up in 13.4 at 173.8 and the big fella from Clayton creamed the standing kilometre in 24.1 at 223.7km/h. The heaviness of the gearshift seems to disappear when you’re banging them through on a runway, and bang them through you will because even with the extra few hundred revs of the 6.2 over standard Holden fare, redline comes up mighty quick in the first few gears.

The axle-tramp we’d noticed in other GTS (mainly under brakes) seemed banished in this one, too, and the whole thing was rock solid even at warp speeds. Which kind of makes the lap-time a bit harder to explain. See, while the GTS was the quickest local down the shute, it couldn’t match the F6 when it came to getting around Wakefield.

2008-HSV-GTS-aerial-WHEEL.jpgMaybe it was the slight lack of braking feel (not that the stoppers ever quit on us) or the two-three shift that sometimes snagged the gate, but the GTS’ 1.10:1 put it between the F6 and the GT-P for lap-times. Not what we’d expected really.

Even with the magnetic dampers switched to kill, the HSV seemed set up a bit soft with too much body roll.

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That said, fore-aft pitch was well controlled and there was plenty of power-down apart from when you got totally lairy with the gas. At which point all that wheelbase allowed you to hold silly drift angles and adjust them with the noise pedal. Nice.

On the road, the relatively soft spring rates don’t matter so much, but you will still feel a bit like a pimple on a pumpkin when it comes to hurling her about. The seats are okay but they’re designed with butt-crack and donuts in mind, so they’re quite vast.

2008-HSV-GTS-rear.jpgThrow in the big tiller with fatso rim and a gearshift that seems to be in the next parish and it can all start to feel weird. Not bad weird, just not cosy. Anything else?

Yeah, even on a day of low ambient temperature, the engine oil went to 150-degrees C. HSV says don’t worry about it (the gauge has been recalibrated to look less scary, too) but I wouldn’t be happy if it was mine. For 78 grand, I want an oil cooler.

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