HSV Clubsport R8 Review and Road Test

$64,990 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    14.5L
  • Engine Power
    317kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    345g
  • ANCAP Rating
    4Stars

HSV's E2 Series Clubsport R8 is big, brash and in your face.

Big, brash and in your face.

CarAdvice Rating:

Pictures certainly don’t do the E2 Series of HSVs any justice. In person, these cars exude masculinity and power.

The new E2 Series Clubsport R8, HSV GTS and HSV Maloo feature a set of twin nostrils on the bonnet, in addition to front LED daytime running lights. Around the rear you will find a remodelled lower diffuser in addition to four exhaust pipes that mould into two.

Part of the reason behind the new exhaust design is to house a set of vacuum operated butterfly valves on two of the four exhaust pipes. The two butterfly valves form the crux of HSV’s new bi-modal exhaust. The butterfly valves open at around 3800rpm, giving the 6.2L V8 a new found menacing snarl.

Our test car was also fitted with HSV’s 20” Pentagon Millennium alloy wheels. They suit the car down to a tee, but protrude a considerable amount – a nightmare for touch parkers.

The interior remains unchanged in the E2 Series of HSVs. Our Clubsport R8 was fitted with optional leather seats, but comes standard with a cloth interior.

Built on the Holden Commodore platform with minor body kit and mechanical changes, the HSV line of vehicles offers fantastic front and rear head and leg room. Adults comfortably fit three abreast across the rear seat.

Boot capacity is generous at 496 litres, featuring a flat floor, unlike the FPV range of vehicles that sculpt the floor around the tyre well, affording an extra 24 litres of cargo capacity.

One of the much talked about changes to the E2 Series of HSVs was the automatic braking function of the cruise control. The system can use the vehicle’s brakes to slow the car down in the event it veers north of the prescribed cruise control speed. It works well and manages to control the vehicle’s speed very accurately.

The exhaust note at idle has also been beefed up. When you turn the gnarly V8 over, it idles with a meaty echo, making its presence well known.

While the six-speed automatic gearbox is still nothing to write home about, the six-speed manual offers an exciting and sporty package. The close-ratio gearbox is coupled with a light, short travelling clutch with closely matched pedals, perfectly spaced for heel-toe action.

Manual HSVs now come with an all-new launch control program. Launch control is selected when the vehicle is in Competition Mode with the clutch depressed and first gear selected. The driver then holds the throttle flat to the floor. The engine management system holds engine revs at around 4000rpm before the driver releases the clutch and launches the vehicle.

Unfortunately the traction control technology behind the launch control isn’t too crash hot. The end result is a jolted run out of first gear and a very hard shift into second gear. Either way you look at it, the claimed 0-100km/h time of 4.96s is unrealistic. The invitation is open to HSV to demonstrate this time personally.

Sitting behind the wheel of the Clubsport is a pleasant experience. It misses out on the Magnetic Ride Control, making the ride a lot more subtle and forgiving over bumps. Unfortunately the softness of the damping affects cornering feel, with substantially more body roll added to the equation in comparison to the GTS and Senator.

Brake feel is very impressive, with a firm response from the pedal and progressive feel throughout the application. Steering feel is also great, but expect some rattle from the steering rack if you experience bumps mid-corner.

Colossal acceleration is on hand in almost any gear. The 317kW LS3 produces 550Nm of torque that moves the 1759kg mass with a sense of urgency at the drop of the throttle. Official fuel consumption figures place the HSV Clubsport at 14.8L/100km, which was closely matched on test.

Part of the E2 Series upgrade includes a three stage electronic stability control system. The main mode is the regular mode that keeps the vehicle’s straight ahead motion in check. The competition mode (selected by a single push of the stability control button) gives the car a bit more rear-end action before it steps in. Finally, there is the off mode (selected by holding the stability control button for several seconds).

Standard features include: Dual-zone climate control, electric windows, electric wing mirrors, power steering, central locking, six-disc in-dash CD-player, 11-speaker sound system, driver’s seat electric adjustment, LED running lights, front fog lights, cruise control, electronic boot release and rear LED brake lights.

Standard safety features include: Driver and front passenger SRS airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, full length curtain airbags, tri-stage electronic stability control, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, engine immobiliser and DATADOT technology.

Priced from $65,990, the HSV Clubsport is the cheapest way to enter the HSV sedan range.

While it doesn’t have the added 7kW poke of its GTS sibling, the Clubsport still offers an amazing performance package. It won’t out handle the best offerings from Germany or Japan, but it will sure as heck give them a run for their money in a straight light.

At just under $66,000, it’s a relative bargain when you consider its performance credentials. Although I wasn’t convinced with the design to start with, it has really grown on me and looks much better in person. Coupled with the 20” Pentagon Millennium wheels and the bi-modal exhaust, the HSV Clubsport is a tempting place to be for a motoring enthusiast after a bang-for-your-buck loudly designed Aussie sports car.

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*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and does not include dealer delivery, on-road or statutory charges.