We’ve been lucky enough to spend the last month or so sampling HSV’s MY15 range.
The updates have been minor, mainly limited to wheel and spoiler designs and two new colours (a deep red and medium green), but there has been a minor range reshuffle.
More importantly, driving the range back-to-back-to-back gives us a chance to evaluate how each model sits compared to those around it.
First up, the base Clubsport. Starting at $61,990 for the six-speed manual (an extra $2500 for the six-speed auto, now with paddle-shifters) the base Clubsport adopts the old R8’s 325kW/550Nm tune.
We’re big fans of the Holden SS V Redline here at MOTOR, and before driving the new Clubbie we admit to asking why you’d pay the extra $10K over the Holden, but that 6.2-litre LS3 mounts a persuasive argument.
It performs much better than the 6.0-litre LS2 unit found in the Commodore, with a far more aggressive soundtrack. The paddle shifters work ok, though to be honest I usually just ended up using the sequential sports shift.
The steering is very light, though, which means it lacks a bit of connection through the front end, but there’s an honesty and simplicity about the way it drives that makes it a damn tempting way to spend $60-odd grand – if you’re into this sort of thing. Even in lairy ‘Jungle Green’, the base Clubsport is more restrained than some of HSV’s traditional efforts and all the better for it.
Next up is the Clubsport R8, right? Wrong. We slot into the GTS next, and at $94,490 for the manual (again, $2500 extra for the auto) it’d want to be a whole different ballgame. And it is.
It’s immensely fast, but the 430kW/740Nm 6.2-litre supercharged V8 isn’t the highlight of the GTS. No, it’s the chassis that is most impressive.
The trick 9.5-inch rear end, lifted from the Camaro ZL1, does an amazing job of transferring all the power to the road, the steering is far better weighted than the Clubsport and its monster brakes are virtually peerless in the world of production cars.
It lacks the outright firepower of its German competitors, but on a twisty road, especially in the wet, I’d bet on the GTS setting the pace every time. A word of warning, though, when it does let go it does so very quickly and takes quite a bit of catching – it’s not the friendliest car in the world to slide.
To round things off, a week each in a Clubsport R8 and Maloo R8. The best of both worlds? Sort of. Now fitted with the 340kW/570Nm LS3 from the now-discontinued SV models, they sound fantastic, though the new electrically-operated bi-modal exhaust is a bit slow to react.
The steering is also sweeter than the base Clubsport, but unfortunately the R8 models are firm to the point of fidgety. Never are they truly comfortable, which is a shame given their suitability to long-haul driving in many other respects.
Hopefully, HSV will offer the GTS’s trick magnetic ride dampers as an option on Clubsport R8 before too long.
As it is, the only way to match the magnetic dampers with the atmo V8 is with the $83,990 Senator Signature, which happened to be the one variant we didn’t try. What’s HSV’s phone number again?
HSV MY15 Range
Maloo – 325kW/550Nm $59,990*
Clubsport – 325kW/550Nm $61,990*
Maloo R8 – 340kW/570Nm $69,990*
Clubsport R8 – 340kW/570Nm $73,290*
Clubsport R8 Tourer – 340kW/570Nm $76,490 (auto only)
Senator Signature – 340kW/570Nm $83,990*
Grange – 340kW/570Nm $85,990 (auto only)
GTS Maloo – 430kW/740Nm $87,990*
GTS – 430kW/740Nm $94,490*
*auto adds $2500