Walkinshaw Performance W497 Review

With more power and more torque than HSV\'s supercharged GTS, Paul Maric bravely gets behind the wheel of the Walkinshaw Performance W497...

It's not often an HSV driver yearns for more power — especially with the latest and greatest HSV Gen-F range, which is lighter and more powerful than its predecessor, with a range-first supercharger option for the flagship GTS.

Thankfully, though, for some HSV owners wanting a further performance boost, Walkinshaw Performance has them covered. Although there is a range of Holden performance upgrades on offer, tested here is the range-topping Walkinshaw Performance W497.

The Walkinshaw Performance W497 package tested was fitted to the 6.2-litre V8-engined HSV Gen-F Clubsport R8 SV, increasing power from 340kW to a devilish 497kW and torque from 540Nm to a ridiculous 955Nm.

These power and torque increases comfortably bypass the regular production $92,990 HSV Gen-F GTS range-topper by 67kW and 215Nm. The Walkinshaw Performance W497 package does, however, add a hefty $18,990 to the price of a $76,285 HSV Gen-F Clubsport RS SV (or $2000 extra for the six-speed automatic).

The net cost of the higher outputs over the GTS is $2285 for the six-speed manual, or $4285 for the six-speed automatic, as an auto is a no-cost option on the GTS. The W497 also misses the torque vectoring system standard only on the production GTS, as the suspension is pure Clubsport R8 SV.

The output increases come courtesy of an Eaton twin-vortices supercharger, a water-to-air intercooler with custom cold air intake, ceramic coated headers, high-flow fuel injectors, 12-inch intake runners and a stepped 3.0-inch cat-back exhaust system.

Although the standard HSV Clubsport R8 with bi-modal exhaust already sounds beaut, the deeper V8 rumble of the W497 can be likened to classic V8 muscle cars of yesteryear, even down to shimmy and shake at idle that is characterful or downright unrefined, depending on your perspective.

The already-responsive LS3 V8 becomes razor sharp with the Walkinshaw kit thanks to the strapped-on supercharger. In any gear at any speed a brave nudge of the throttle enrages the beast within and the W497 begins moving – fast.

With generous amounts of supercharger whine and a heap of exhaust note, the W497 doesn’t hang around. The new Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres transform the Gen-F’s character and make the Walkinshaw Performance upgrades usable for everything from straight-line acceleration to cornering.

After a boot-full of throttle and small side step off the line, the 275mm-wide rear tyres hook-up and propel the W497 at amazing pace. The only other car we could liken it to is the Bugatti Veyron; that’s how ferocious it is.

Cornering, however, can at times be challenging. The W497 turns in with accuracy but can surge with throttle applications, which induces a hint of understeer.

Reining in this much power – especially in the wet – comes courtesy of the latest iteration of Bosch electronic stability control. Three driving modes allow flexibility over the amount of sideways action before the system intervenes, making a good driver look like a seasoned pro.

In addition to modifications under the bonnet, Walkinshaw Performance offers a range of styling options. Our test car was fitted with a discreet (yes, not an adjective usually associated with these cars) vinyl-trimmed roof, bonnet, boot, and side skirt wrap.

Inside, Walkinshaw-embossed headrests complete with stitching offer a degree of individuality, although even the enormously improved VF Commodore dashboard doesn’t feel anywhere near premium enough for the $90K-plus ask. Conversely, though, it could be said a 2.7-litre V6 Audi A6 engine doesn’t have enough poke for the same money.

The added performance punch comes at the cost of fuel consumption, but it’s not as bad as you would imagine. During our time with the car, the average fuel use was 14.8L/100km. That’s compared to 12.9L/100km in the naturally aspirated car tested earlier.

Although the ‘bells and whistles’ package here costs $18,990, cheaper non-supercharged performance packages are available for the Gen-F HSV and SS Commodore range.

At the bottom of the performance ladder is Walkinshaw’s W310, which is a parts package for the Commodore SS (sedan and ute) that increases power to 310kW and torque to 580Nm. This upgrade is priced at $6495 and comes with a balance of new car warranty.

The next step up for the Commodore SS is the W457 package that utilises the same parts fitted to the W497 to produce a mammoth 457kW of power and 780Nm of torque. Again, it’s available on the sedan and ute and comes with a balance of new car warranty. Pricing is the same as W497 at $18,990.

In the HSV camp, a mild upgrade option called the W375 increases power and torque to 375kW and 676Nm respectively without the need for a supercharger. The upgrade package is available on the Clubsport R8, Maloo and Tourer, costing $6495.

Walkinshaw Performance guarantees the power upgrades for the duration of the three-year/100,000km warranty. Even if you bring them a one-month-old Gen-F HSV Clubsport R8 SV, you will still be covered for the remainder of the new car warranty.

When it comes to servicing and maintenance, Walkinshaw Performance has worked hard to establish locations around the country. A network of 18 outlets are available for new installations and servicing. The benefit is nationwide servicing for owners, regardless of installation location.

If you’re one of those crazy HSV nuts who thinks their red lion doesn’t growl as loud or move as fast as it should, the Walkinshaw Performance packages are a no-brainer. The fact Walkinshaw’s W497 remains driveable despite the huge power increase is testament to the level of engineering poured into development.

Photography includes images by Joel Strickland and Paul Maric.