The Clubsport GXP ($59,990) and Maloo GXP ($53,990) are based on the Pontiac G8 GXP export program and offer significant savings over the R8 sedan ($65,990) and the R8 Ute ($62,550).
Engine outputs from the 6.2-litre unit remain at 317kW/550Nm (8kW less than the sedan, equal to the ute), but the brakes are smaller (355mm) and the suspension tune in the sedan is the same as a Commodore SSV.
HSV’s Tim Jackson said the GXP was not a reaction to the GS from Ford Performance Vehicles, which is a cheaper version of the GT at $54,950.
“I can understand why the question would be asked but this was in our system well before we found out about FPV’s effort with GS,” he said.
Jackson insisted that the new GXP would appeal to different buyers.
“We’ve pretty consistently said we see that there are a lot of competitors for us, of which FPV is one, but when we look at our data we don’t get a lot of crossover between HSV and FPV.“But there are a lot of competitors in that market place so for this one we’ve really focused on performance and the price point.”
And despite starting just $4700 above the SSV, HSV does not see the GXP cannibalising that market either.
“We obviously work closely with Holden on how our range complements their range. There’s a level of comfort there that it’s not going to be a drama,” Jackson said.
The rear of the sedan shares more with Holden than HSV, with the standard wing replaced by a lip spoiler.
The GXPs also get a less high-tech stability control system that misses out on the ‘Track’ setting and comes without launch control in the manuals.
Despite the detuning, HSV managing director, Phil Harding, said the new models could still wear the badge with pride.
“We receive lots of enquiries about introducing a model to sit as an entry-level to our brand and the GXP program provides us this opportunity.“I have always said that in order for a car to wear the HSV badge it needs to satisfy three criteria: performance, handling and design.“Clearly these cars tick all three boxes,” he said.
HSV will build 400 ClubSport GXPs and 350 Maloo GXPs for Australia and New Zealand with production taking place in February 2010 and delivery in March.
They are on sale now, allowing buyers to qualify for the Federal Government’s 50 percent investment allowance which ends on December 31.