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  • Clubsport is sweetly balanced and wonderfully complete; fantastic steering, and ESC calibration; much improved refinement and cabin quality
  • Clubsport gets less equipment than SS V Redline; fixed dampers and 20-inch rims deliver a busy ride; staggered options list

OUR RATING
9 / 10



HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review

Is the HSV Gen-F Clubsport worth the extra $15K over its VF Commodore SS V brethren?

That’s the question that looms large over the still split-twin grille and lion-plus-racing-helmet badge of our bright red test car. The $60,990 Clubsport is the entry point to HSV Gen-F ownership, and the entry ticket to a 6.2-litre V8 petrol engine, which replaces the 6.0-litre in the Commodore SS V flagship.

The HSV engine delivers a 47kW and 20Nm hike over the Holden, with 317kW of power and 550Nm of torque, delivered to the new Continental rear tyres (275mm wide, compared with the 255mm fronts, also Contis) that wrap tight around 20-inch rims – the SS V only gets 19s.

Behind the wheels, the Clubsport gets 367mm four-piston callipers, front and rear. The entry level HSV also gets launch control and competitive mode stability control. The $51,490 SS V Redline gets those latter two items, but only front four piston callipers.

The HSV does, however, lack equipment standard on the top Holden, including leather trim, rain sensing wipers, Bose audio, rain sensing wipers, forward collision alert and lane departure warning. So the Clubsport is, therefore, equipped more like the $45,490 SS V – hence the $15K impost.

To get all that kit, the $71,290 Clubsport R8 (below) is required. The R8 ups the ante to 325kW, and adds features to the across-the-range centrally-located driver preference dial; steering weight can now be altered, and a bi-modal exhaust allows the R8 to switch between loud and only slightly quieter…

HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review

Although the 317kW Clubsport and 325kW Clubsport R8 are familiar numbers and names, with the HSV Gen-F range an optional ($4995) SV pack raises power to 340kW – handily 5kW above an FPV – and torque to 570Nm. Although the SV adds another exterior badge, black detailing and forged alloys, every single HSV Gen-F grade runs the same wheel and tyre package.

Primarily thanks to lighter alloy wheels, in addition to the aluminium bonnet, bootlid, suspension components, and front dash brace inhertied from Holden, weight drops substantially across the range – by more than the regular Holden’s, too.

The Clubsport is now 68kg lighter, now 1755kg as a manual, or 1773kg auto, while the Clubsport R8 drops by 40kg to 1764kg manual/1782kg auto. All of the non-supercharged HSV range now slurp 12.6L/100km as manuals, or 12.9L/100km with an auto, down 0.9L/100km on the Clubsports.

With the stats and figures absorbed, HSV unravelled a local launch test loop from Melbourne airport to Phillip Island, which detoured through twisty roads, then let us loose on the iconic racetrack at its destination.

Even from idle the refinement difference is obvious. The big V8 no longer hums through the dash but stays quiet in the background when the throttle is left untouched.

The Gen-F range picks up all the inherent interior design excellence from the VF Commodore range, but then spoils it with traditional (but in a bad way) analogue battery voltage and oil temperature gauges glued under the climate controls. Along with the chintzy chrome model designation applique just ahead of the transmission selector, they look ugly and feel cheap.

HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review

HSV’s Electronic Driver Interface (EDI) system carries over from the previous models, and is standard on all models bar the base Clubsport and Maloo. Now integrated as a HSV EDI ‘app’ within the Holden’s MyLink infotainment system, the display flicks through colour mapping of the bi-modal exhaust, bi-modal air intake, understeer and oversteer graphics, slip angles, and stability control intervention.

It even allows racetracks to be downloaded and lap times saved to a memory card; a good way of denting the ego of those pedalling around one of Australia’s best racetracks.

Although EDI is cool, HSV admits that it was too costly to bring the display to the highest resolution found in the VF Commodore range, so while the stuff shared with VF – the main display, apps, audio, basically everything except EDI – so the graphics on the EDI look slightly blurry and aftermarket.

HSV must find a more sophisticated way of distancing its cabins from its Holden donor cars, because every other bit of the car is a demonstration of focused engineering.

Curiously, for the first time ever HSV had to run its Commodore program exactly alongside Holden’s development of the VF, yet they weren’t allowed drives of VF mules. Usually, HSV development would lag slightly behind that of Holden, but this time there was no cross-checking of what the other guy was doing.

So the HSV range has different steering and stability control maps, and for the Clubsport models, a unique HSV Performance Suspension.

HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review

As with the VF, the HSV’s electro-mechanical steering is exemplary. Weighted a little heavier than the Holden’s, even in ‘Tour’ mode, it then gets weightier in ‘Sport’ and again in ‘Perf’.

The brilliant consistency carries over from VF, but driving the system on a track made the steering feel even better than it does on the road. It is so accurate, nicely quick without being nervous, and unlike hydraulic systems doesn’t ‘load up’ (or lose assistance) during fast changes of direction.

HSV will no longer be known for occasionally dropping a power steering pump on a racetrack as it once was, either.

Switching between a Clubsport sedan, Clubsport R8 Tourer and Clubsport R8 sedan, all manuals, highlighted only mild differences between them.

On the road, all ride with a definite firmness verging on a slight edginess. HSV’s Generation 3 Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) remain only available on Senator, and its brilliance (read more here) means it renders the regular dampers slightly uncomfortable.

With big V8 engines up the front, surety with braking applications into tight corners and patience with the throttle coming out of them is always required.

But the new tyres glue themselves to the road.

HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review

The Tourer has a greater propensity to roll oversteer; the R8’s bi-modal exhaust renders the base car too quiet; and the SV’s extra power and torque aren’t really that noticeable in normal driving.

Switch to the race track, however, and the extra grunt of the SV is more clearly felt.

Yet the good looking, red-with-charcoal-alloys base Clubsport manual sedan still feels super sweet. With strong brakes, superb stability control – in Perf mode it is unbelievably subtle – stacks of grip and the least amount of grunt, it all gels as a lovely entry-level package.

Where the Clubsport R8 SV gets the base car is in the mid-range, when powering out of corners in third gear.

In particular, the uphill left-hander called Siberia at Phillip Island is a too-quick corner for second gear, yet only the SV pulls with genuine punch up towards the next straight.

Although the HSV Gen-F can feel a bit nose heavy on the road, it is a car that rewards commitment. Once past the slightly blunt initial turn in and after a decent-sized weight transfer is felt, it’s all about throttle linearity, and the sort of delicate rear-wheel-drive balance that suddenly makes it feel smaller than it really is.

All of which is backed by fantastic steering, terrific stability control modes, top brakes, a great noise and plenty of performance, in addition to significant refinement and technology upgrades – and, subjectively, hugely improved styling.

HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review

Whatever the HSV Gen-F Clubsport, these are fabulous sports cars and evidence of a big mid-life investment. Without MRC, however, they aren’t the pick of the Gen-F range. Surprisingly, until we reveal our verdict on the heroic supercharged GTS when its embargo lifts in late July, the Gen-F pick is the luxury model…


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HSV CLUBSPORT BREAKDOWN

HSV Gen-F Clubsport Review
  • 9
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  • 7
  • 9
  Submit an Owner Car Review


  • Robin_Graves

    It’s an improvement over the stormtrooper look of the VE but the rear end is still hideous.

    • Roadtard

      HSV just couldn’t help themselves. Had to stuff those dopey extra gauges in the hole ahead of the shifter.

      • Zaccy16

        yep i agree, the had to ruin the best interior ever put in a commodore! the interior looks alot more up market in the sv6, ss and ssv/redline

    • ShaneMcGrath

      I have said same thing for every new Commodore that ever came out but after a while I start liking it as always! Give it some time…
      Only let down to me is the rims are a bit too ordinary that goes for both Holden and HSV, Need to swap those for aftermarkets for sure to make it stand out from the crowd.

  • Daniel D

    So can we have a full comparison of the entry level HSV vs the Redline? You started talking about the two and then stopped. I’m sure I would not be the only one to be wondering how much closer Holden have got the Redline to HSV standards.

    • ShaneMcGrath

      It does indeed, I am about to purchase new VF myself. I seriously am struggling to justify the extra money on HSV now,Really wanted to move up to clubby. To get the same tech the SSV redline has inside clubby I would need to move up to an R8 as the standard clubsport doesn’t even have the heads up display which ssv redline has. $58k ssv redline driveaway, clubsport(basic) 61k(not driveaway) clubsport R8 71k(not driveaway)
      Holden really have upped the ball this round. I think you will see a lot of ss’s and ssv’s/redlines on the road soon.

  • Brett

    No performance figures? What was 0-100,and braking distances etc??

  • JoeR_AUS

    These cars are too heavy the brakes, suspension etc all work to hard to shift the weight around. eg track day at Wakefield and my car weighting 1320kg and 168kw at the wheels was lapping faster than all the GTS’s present.

    I would say the Megane RS265 would show a clean pair of heals to all the HSV’s

    • Jack

      True but that would be a different result around Eastern Creek.

      • JoeR_AUS

        At Eastern Creek a stock GTS cannot keep up with Megane RS265 but to be fair nor could the road going Evo’s

        • Dave

          The new GTS will have nearly 1G of lateral cornering grip, (old GTS 0.95G) amazing 6 piston brakes (nearly 400mm) that don’t fade after many laps and no torque steer. You make a fantastic point and I understand just how capable these Renaults are, especially if you adopt the declining entropy argument of larger cars on the track, but please wait until this car has been tested on track before you say the Renault’s faster. It may well be faster, but this has yet to be proven.

          • Racer

            What an i%^#t, has to be proven . what has to be proven a renault megan 265 is god of cars in this day and age, i use to have mk6 gti and on race track the holden club went out guy with 550hp hsv r8 running slicks , i was running semi slicks with 195kw at the wheels and i smashed him lap after lap. Now to understand things if Megan 265 was there on track standard power it would smash my lap time easy, why well the chassis on RS265 is King

          • Dave

            So you raced a new Gen F around the track and won, oh wait you haven’t, therefore you have no supporting evidence. You also need to learn proper grammar or at least simple English: ‘the holden club went out guy with 550hp hsv’. Also I own a VW MK6 GTI and it’s a fantastic car, but with steering that’s 3 turns lock to lock, mild torque/under-steer and suspension that ‘s set up for bump compliance over outright control, it not a track weapon, but a fantastic car for road and track. The Mk 6 GTI’s also don’t handle or stop as quickly as any current HSV, but do have far better interior quality, attention to detail and better economy. The Gen-F HSV is a truly world class car, it has fantastic handling thanks to MRC, brilliant brakes and a fanastic v8 engine.

          • John

            Do you even speak, or write, English? I have no idea what you said!

          • Nathan

            God of cars… You’re joking right? It’s the god of FWD cars. And they’re the runt of the litter.

        • Nathan

          The EvoX has lapped the Nurburgring 13s faster.
          It may be the fastest FWD car on a track but it’s no Evo/HSV killer.
          Did it never occur to you that maybe the reason that the Megane was dishing the chop was driver skill?

          • JoeR_AUS

            You might want to check that EVO time as even on the EVO X Forum they don’t believe it.

            Yes, driver skill has a lot to with it but there was about 10 EVO, 3 GTS and one Megane RS265……

    • nugsdad

      Maybe but its still a tarted up shopping trolley

      • JoeR_AUS

        as all cars are except Ferrari, Lambo etc

    • ShaneMcGrath

      And a 500cc bike weighs around 200kg and can out run and out maneuver your shopping trolley, Your point is?

    • Zaccy16

      yep i agree, most hot hatches would be quicker and much more nimble, the gts might be different though!

      • Nathan

        No way that a MPS or ST would beat the Clubby. The WRX and Evo would be a good battle.

  • Rocket

    Would be nice to see some actual performance figures and a comparison test between the SV 340KW and GT R spec Falcon . Lap times, 1/4 mile and braking distances would be good reading. Don’t bother with fuel consumption.

  • BP

    Wow! Looks even better in the metal, particularly the front end. Back end tail lights look slick in the afternoon/

  • quivive@gmail.com

    BMW wants its front grill back.

  • Do not like the VE generic VF

    It’s a bit cold for thongs (G-Bangers) Holden H-SSSSSSSS-V. please cover up your rear end its making me throw up that frumpy front end you gave us, yuk stay away from me.

    I do not like the VF and won’t be buying a large car, dressing up the VE with different lights and slighty different plastic will not float my boat, it cant even tow more than 1600kg so my boat plus trailer which is 1750kg/gvm will not leave the shed, shame GM / Malibu / Holden pffffft whatever shame.

    • Brayden Cresswell

      So you had to tell everyone your not buying a car good on you.

    • Andy Whitby

      You shouldn’t be buying anything, rather spend your money at the optometrist, you are clearly blind.

      All new interior, new panels, new electronics, new transmissions, features standard that are optional on cars twice it’s price.
      Oh and yea it can tow 2100 KG with an optional towing kit, my VT, VZ and VE all did that with ease.
      It can seat five, it’s comfortable, its relative cheap to run, own and maintain.
      It keeps Australian’s in a job.
      Need I go on ?
      Grow up

  • Ken

    Fantastic Car !! The VF has grown on me over the last few weeks. It has to be said Holden made a standout effort with the SS-V Redline and HSV has to work harder to seperate themselves especially inside the cabin. Top job HSV and Holden!

  • gtrxuone

    The rear end styling looks fantastic.One classy looking motor car.

    • The G-Banger’s are on me.

      Yep, the G-Bangers are on us Holden said, hahaha lol.

  • GK

    I have been lucky enough to own a VX SS and a VE HSV. Both were terrific cars but the HSV was a clear standout and well worth the extra money. I enjoyed it so much I an picking up a VF R8 SV this week. Perhaps not the fastest set of wheels around but a fine piece of Austrilian engineered muscle I will be proud to drive. The ample available grunt blows my away with excitment every time the pedal goes to the metal

  • Autoholic

    If only the bee sting aerial was ditched for the shark fin.

  • David

    I hope by the time I’m ready to purchase the Gen F series Hsv they will bring out a series 2 without the stupid plastic dials which mind you were put in the most ridiculous position… even the ss has a coin area where the dials are in the hsv’s. The person that thought of putting them there should be fired… oh wait he will be…

HSV Clubsport Specs

R8 : 6.2L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 6 SP AUTO ACTIVE SEQ - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
HSV
Model
CLUBSPORT
Variant
R8
Series
E3 MY12.5
Year
2013
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
6.2L
Cylinders
V8
Max. Torque
550Nm @  4600rpm
Max. Power
317kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
180.1W/kg
Bore & Stroke
103.1x91.95mm
Compression Ratio
10.7
Valve Gear
OVERHEAD VALVE
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTO ACTIVE SEQ
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.27
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
73
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
13.9L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1760
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1467mm
Length
4943mm
Width
1899mm
Ground Clearance
102mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1600  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11.4
Front Rim Size
8.5x20
Rear Rim Size
9.5x20
Front Tyres
245/35 R20
Rear Tyres
275/30 R20
Wheel Base
2915
Front Track
1592
Rear Track
1590
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Standard Features
Comfort
Auto Climate Control with Dual Temp Zones, Power front seats
Control & Handling
20 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program
Driver
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering
Engine & Transmission
Limited Slip Differential
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker
Exterior
Body Kit, Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Power Sunroof, Rear seat enhancement pack
Control & Handling
Performance Suspension
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
9-H-19
Country of Origin
AUSTRALIA