So, I have just sold not only my first ever HSV, but also the first ever Holden I have ever owned. I have never written a review about a vehicle before, but for some reason I feel compelled to do so about my experiences with the HSV GTS.
My car before the GTS was a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, and it was fantastic. It is the only car I have ever purchased new, and in the entire time I owned it, I could not fault it. That was until I took it to Jeep for a warranty issue…
A small bubble had appeared on the leather dash, so I thought bugger it, they can fix it. They completely stuffed the install of the new dash, it didnt fit correctly, was out of alignment, had bits falling off it, and tried to hand the car back to me with the demister broken in half and just sitting on the dash. It was at this point that I decided to look for a new car.
Not wanting to take a step back in the performance arena, the only thing out there that seemed to be a good alternative, was the Gen F HSV GTS. On paper, it had all the goods, Bluetooth, DVD, leather seats et cetera. So I decided to take one for a drive and was really impressed by the power delivery.
Before trading over to the GTS, I did a lot of research into the model and also the HSV brand. In reality, all the HSV sedans are basically a Commodore Evoke, stripped down and replaced with HSV components. That should probably be your first warning. Maybe not warning, that seems more harsh than intended. But do understand, you are buying a Commodore that has been repurposed.
When I got my GTS, it had about 12,500km on the clock. New, they were going for around or a little over $100,000. That is a lot of money to spend on a car like this, and I would submit, it is about $20,000 over-priced. The only option you can have is red leather inserts in the seats and a sunroof. I believe it is either both or nothing. Also, you wont get a spare tyre, not even a spacesaver. So if you do fork out the extra money for that, it has to sit in the boot, and takes up a fair bit of real estate.
The engine is fantastic, no complaints there. The exhaust is good and the transmission is nice and responsive. If you fit a new air intake system you will really open up the sound of the supercharger, which is in itself, fantastic to hear whistling away. The bi-modal exhaust can be bypassed, with the removal of a fuse/relay.
The car comes standard with Continental tyres, which are a bit noisy, but overall not bad. I changed to Bridgestones and due to the size of the rim, expect to pay around $2000 for four new tyres.
The cabin is well presented, with nice stitching throughout. The seats are comfortable and have plenty of adjustment options. They are heated, but not cooled. The steering wheel is nice and chunky, with later models picking up flappy paddle-shifters. The radio, phone and cruise control can be controlled from the steering wheel. The steering wheel is not heated, which is surprising.
As is typical in most cars these days, the glove compartment has about enough room for the car’s books, and thats about it. There is okay room in the centre console, and there you will also find a power port and USB connection.
Moving forward on the centre console you will find a drive type selector, which enables or disables different aspects of the car, such as exhaust, traction control et cetera. Just hold down the centre button for five to eight seconds and turn everything off!
The air condition in the car is quite good, with zone control and quite a bit of fan control. There is also a head-up display on the dash, which has various options you can choose from in terms of what it displays. I always had it set to speed, which made controlling your pace very easy. If you put the car in to manual mode, you can also have a tacho option.
From here though, is where the car starts to disappoint. The stereo is terrible. I cannot believe they actually released a car that sold for $100,000 and put such a drab system in it. It has CD/DVD/Bluetooth /AM/FM/Pandora and some other one also.
You can only control bass, mid and treble and you have to set the bass, mid and treble for each source; setting it for one, does not set it for all. The infotainment system I found would get easily confused, to the point that if I started the car with my phone connected via USB, more than half the time I had to turn the car off, disconnect the phone and restart the car, just to get it to function as it should.
The phone system is clunky, and there is nowhere for you to save favourite numbers. The voice command system is terrible and in the end I gave up even trying to use it. Pandora was forever stopping mid-song, but I don’t know if that was the car, or my connection. Sat-nav is okay, but not particularly as easy to use as it could be.
The display has an option for you to select from a number of performance pages, but in reality, unless you are taking it to track days, or you’re looking to show off, you will stop looking at it after about week two.
The rear-view camera is average and at the time of writing this review, my car at least, did not have guidelines on the rear display when it was active. Not such a big deal, but strange that it didnt have it.
Far and away the worst thing in my mind was the inability for you to control when the screen auto dims. Not such a big deal, but, you could be reversing and in the shade, yet the rest of the immediate area you are trying to drive in might be normal and sunny. With the screen automatically dimming, you would end up having zero visibility via the rear-view camera.
Same if you were driving in low light conditions, such as a rainy day or overcast et cetera. The displays would flip between being visible and the complete opposite, when you can hardly tell what is on there. I actually considered this so dangerous I wrote to Holden to complain. Maybe a fix is in the wind. But it struck me as very strange that you had no way of simply disabling this feature?
The cruise control is again basic, and not adaptive as most cars are coming out with these days.
The car itself drives great. It handles well, has lots of power, but it doesn’t come with launch control!
If you are in the market for a brutish V8, then this or the Ford variant will probably be the car for you. If on the other hand you want to have power and all the creature comforts you would expect from a car with this price tag, I would say keep looking. When it comes to spending $100,000 on a new car, you have plenty of options to choose from.
So now, after not even two years of ownership, I have decided to move the HSV on and go back to an SRT Grand Cherokee. It simply is just a much better vehicle and in the second hand-market, they go for about the same money, if not cheaper than the HSV.