What’s hot: Gut-busting power and torque, blistering performance, sensational sound.
What’s not: The ‘whole enchilada’ is a bit boofy; massive thirst when tapped.
X-FACTOR: No roll cage, but this Walkinshaw upgrade turns an SS or R8 into a ‘V8 Supercar’ for the streets.
Vehicle style: Large high-performance sedan
WPP Kit Price: $24,990
Base cars: Commodore SS VF 6.0 litre ($45,190 plus WPP kit)
HSV E-Series Clubsport R8 ($73,490 plus WPP kit)
When you ‘nail’ 550kW and nearly 1000Nm, things don’t happen merely quickly. They explode.
Even with traction control engaged, there’s a frantic scrabbling at the rear as it tries to control what’s being unloaded at the wheels. And then you’re gone, vamoosed.
But is it fun?
Hmm, let me think about that for a split-fraction of a nanosecond. Fun isn’t close. It’s more than that; it is spiritual, mesmerising... releasing all that power is like flying.
This is driving the Walkinshaw supercharged twins - the 500kW 6.0 litre V8 and the 550kW 6.2 litre.
A twin-vortices Eaton supercharger was bolted into the valley of the ‘V’; new camshafts, valves and valve springs, and free-flowing ceramic headers followed, and power and torque is blown into the stratosphere.
The SS is bumped from 270kW to 500kW, the R8 Clubsport from 340kW to 550kW.
The upgrade comes in a kit, and there are just 50 of them. The kits go on sale October 15, available through select WPP dealers in the Holden dealer network.
If you’re shopping for a new car, you can order your new Walkinshaw-fettled SS or R8 off the showroom floor. Or you can upgrade your current VE or VF SS, or HSV E Series.
To show them off before the kit officially goes public, Walkinshaw prepped-up two faux carbon-fibre-wrapped monsters and let them loose among the rabbits of the press.
We escaped the hutch and put them both to the test.
For looks, we’re not so sure about that faux carbon-fibre wrap, and even less sure about the boofy WPP graphic, but each of these twins is astonishingly consummate.
Each puts race car performance and handling at your fingertips.
But, though neatly trimmed in real hide, quiet and comfortable, and very well-featured, it’s no Lexus nor Audi. Much less an $80k Lexus or Audi.
Each, both SS and R8, are well put together, but there is a finesse to better premium interiors that is missing here.
It reminds you, in a way, that you’re in an American car. Sure, Aussie-designed, but it has the heavy hand of the American parent.
The Commodore SS comes well-equipped out of the box with dual-zone climate control, rear-view camera, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and auto headlights.
You’ll also find front and rear park-sensors, self-park assist, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, sports seats with electric lumbar support, quad-tipped exhaust, sports body kit and rear lip-spoiler.
At $73,490, the HSV R8 adds a long list of up-spec interior features, a head-up display among them (that projects speed, tachometer, lateral G and turn-by-turn navigation instructions onto the windscreen).
Our test cars had Walkinshaw monograms integrated into the seats, which looked pretty smart, but you’ll pay extra for that.
Each of these interiors is otherwise a Commodore SS or HSV R8. Strangely enough, I find the cheaper SS a little less ‘over the top’ and the more appealing interior.
But there are certainly no complaints with comfort, space and trim quality. There is also a feeling that this interior is built to take a ton of punishment.
ON THE ROAD
Key technical upgrade and specifications
- Limited Edition WPP 230 Supercharger
- Large high-flow injectors
- Eaton Twin Vortices 2300 Series (TVS) Gen VI rotors
- Water-to-air intercooler package
- Custom moulded heater hoses
- Cast aluminium coil covers
- Unique injection moulded cold air intake package
- Heavy duty serpentine belt-drive system; Goodyear ‘Gatorback’ belt
- 12-inch intake runners
- Custom moulded intercooler hoses
- WPP Camshaft and Valve Spring Upgrade: including OEM Spec Camshaft, Cam Sprocket, Crank Bolt, Camshaft Bolt Set, Valve Spring Retainers, Valve Stem Locks, Valve Springs Beehive Style
- WPP Ceramic Coated Headers and Dual Active Cat Back Exhaust
- VE/VF 6.0 litre (2006-2014)
- HSV E Series/Gen-F 6.2 litre (2006-2014)
Power and Torque (as tested on WPP01 and WPP02)
- 6.0litre: 500kW/800Nm
- 6.2litre: 550kW/980Nm
Price: $24,490 supplied and fitted
The experience at the wheel of the Walkinshaw upgrade is all about one thing: power, and lots of it.
Each, the WPP 500kW SS and the WPP 550kW Gen F R8 Clubsport, have bone-crushing performance just a flex of the right foot away.
The ‘signed’ Walkinshaw supercharger sitting in the ‘vee’ is responsible. It, and the top-end upgrade to the valves and valve springs, as well as the free-flowing ceramic coated extractors, completely change the character of these V8s.
Each is vastly more alert - the throttle is like a trigger - with a responsiveness and willingness to spin more like a smaller ‘four’ or ‘six’.
And fast? God almighty, each is a spear. Tickle those Newton-metres at any speed, and things suddenly get very hectic.
We didn’t run either against the clock, it gets a bit academic around the 4.0-seconds in the 0-100km/h sprint, but it’s the rolling acceleration that is really something else.
Even at highway speeds, the moment the blower comes on stream, the lift is sensational.
The first time you floor either model for overtaking, it gets up and fires so quickly you’ll overshoot by 50 or 100 metres.
The robust 6L80E six-speed sports auto transmission can handle connecting all that torque to the tarmac; it belts through the changes under full power and gives a throaty ‘blip’ on down-shifts when setting up for a corner.
And how do they steer? Well, like the factory SS or R8 Clubsport - very well. The handling of these big 'Commos' is unusually sharp for such large and heavy machines.
The braking too is sensational, whether in the SS or the Brembo-kitted R8. We tried a number of hard stops without inducing fade, although you’ll start to smell them at work on a press-on run through the hills.
And fuel consumption? If you ask, these cars are not for you. On a quiet country run we averaged around 10.0 l/100km; giving it the berries, we watched it rise to a 22.0 l/100km average.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The supercharged 6.0 litre or 6.2 litre V8s nestled in the noses of these ‘bad to the bone’ twins muscle astonishing power to the tarmac.
Not that the V8 Commodore SS and HSV R8 are slow in standard trim, or reluctant to fire. But, few V8s spin with the fluidity of these Walkinshaw monsters.
So, if the 270kW in the Commodore SS is not nearly enough - or the 340kW pounding out of the HSV R8 Clubsport is also somehow ‘lacking’ - the Walkinshaw supercharger and camshaft upgrade pushes those outputs into another world.
At $24,490 for the kit, those dollars transform these cars - better, faster, stronger, louder and meaner.
And peace of mind? WPP claims an industry first in offering a full driveline warranty on its supercharger and camshaft combination.
Each comes with a full dyno tune, individual build numbers integrated into the top cover and a signed (by V8 race car drivers Garth Tander et al) Walkinshaw Racing Limited Edition Plaque.
In fact, get behind the wheel and the experience is as close as you’ll get to driving a V8 Supercar.
And another fact you might want to quietly mention at your next gathering of the lads: these forced-induction Walkinshaw twins produce more power and torque than any you’ll find on a V8 grid.
That’s some kind of bragging right.