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review

2008 HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer First Steer

$64,990 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    N/A
  • Engine Power
    185kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    N/A
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A
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Just what every bloke needs in his stocking, a 317kW family hauler, and Holden Special Vehicles has decided to play Santa by releasing its version of the Holden Sportwagon, the HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer.

- David Twomey

It’s always difficult to make a good thing better, and most people would agree that the Holden Sportwagon is a good looker, but the HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer manages to do what’s required and with its lowered stance and big wheels it looks even better.

There's a nice hunkered down look to the R8 Tourer that's been helped by the good looks of the donor vehicle, we can see this car appealing to both genders in many families.

Besides the body shape there’s nothing to pick between the Tourer and the Clubsport R8 sedan as they share mechanics and trim specifications, although the Tourer does benefit from some mid-year upgrades that will be passed on to its sibling, including new white on black gauges that replace the previous red effect instruments.

Standard trim in the R8 Tourer is suede and cloth but HSV expects that many owners will fork out the extra $2490 for the full leather trim that was fitted to the cars we drove at today’s media launch.

Giving an engineering overview of the new vehicle HSV’s product guru Joel Stoddart said the Tourer delivered HSV luxury and performance in a wagon.

The R8 Tourer uses the same 6.2-litre, LS3 engine, producing 317kW of power and 550Nm of torque, as the R8 sedan, which HSV says makes it one of the most powerful wagons produced anywhere in the world.

“We’ve built on our knowledge gained since the launch of the E-Series range in August 2006 particularly in chassis development and tuning coupled with the all new LS3 engine, to produce one of our best ever products,” Mr Stoddart said.

According to Mr Stoddart the Clubsport Tourer R8 is a versatile and extremely responsive package.

HSV has produced a handful of wagon variants over its 20-year history and prior to the all-wheel-drive Avalanche, of which 333 were built between 2003 and 2005, the company built 27 VT Senator Signature Estates in 1997.

Mr Stoddart said that 163 Tourers would be built for Australian and New Zealand only this year and the six-speed manual is priced from $65,990 – a $1000 premium over the R8 sedan. The six-speed automatic is an additional $2500.

HSV styling on the vehicle is really confined to the front, where it gets the standard Clubsport R8 treatment, at the rear the only real change is the adding of high-spec Holden taillights. The Tourer comes standard with a reversing camera.

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As for the interior it’s unique in as far as it follows the Clubsport theme, although the rear seat trim is obviously different to allow for the capacity to fold.

Mr Stoddart said, “The Tourer also has impressive handling and ride characteristics and HSV’s enormous brakes and safety package we expect this product to appeal to a range of customers, including families.”

He pointed out that it was built on the same short-wheelbase chassis as the sedan and despite this offered good load carry capabilities as well as generous accommodation for five passengers.

Mr Stoddart said that while the HSV Tourer suspension was essentially the same as that for the R8 sedan it was stiffer due to the additional load capacity associated with a wagon. Towing capacity is 1600 kilograms.

The Tourer rides on 19-inch rims, 8-inches wide at the front and 9.5-inches at the rear, with 20-inch rims and tires available for an extra $2500.

The R8 Tourer officially uses 15.2 litres per 100km in manual form and 14.4L/100km in automatic, and HSV doesn’t expect the fluctuating fuel prices will have much effect on demand for its wagon.

HSV is interested to see where this foray into the wagon market will take it and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a GTS version if the R8 Tourer is a success.

We sampled the automatic and manual versions of the Tourer on some twisting country roads on the outskirts of Melbourne and also experienced some freeway driving.

Handling and performance are very much as you would expect for a Clubsport R8, acceleration is swift and handling is sure-footed without being extraordinary.

The wagon is a neat package and with the addition of sports suspension, strong performance, powerful brakes and beefed up wheels and tyres it doesn’t really put a foot wrong, provided you like that Aussie muscle-car style of motoring.

We plan to put one to some more extensive testing in the near future and will report in detail on life with the very quick family transport at that time.

In the meantime the Tourer should appeal strongly to those who love a good Aussie V8-engined car, with the added capacity of taking care of the family.