Welcome to the HSV GTSR W1. Set to become the last production car based on the Australian-produced Holden Commodore and tuned by HSV’s Clayton, Victoria based facility.
The GTSR W1 represents the culmination of 30 years of experience modifying more prosaic Commodores into genuine performance cars, and in true HSV fashion the company refuses to go quietly.
While cross-town rival Ford wasn’t able to run wild with the final edition of the equally iconic V8 Falcon, HSV has pushed the limits of engineering to ensure the final Commodore V8 goes out with a supercharged bang.
Vehicle Style: Large performance sedan
Price: $169,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 474kW/815Nm 6.2-litre supercahrged petrol 8cyl | 6sp manual
Fuel Economy Claimed: 16.5 l/100km
The HSV GTSR W1 is a proper special edition. Not just a new set of alloy wheels and a commemorative badge, HSV's team of engineers and designers have added an all-new engine, new transmission, new suspension, new brakes, new wheels, and new tyres, as well as making changes to the interior and exterior design.
HSV was known to have been working on this project for more than two years, but to finally see the finished product in all its glory is something special, and to drive it… That is something else again.
ON THE TRACK
- Engine: 6.2-litre supercahrged LS9 V8 (474kW @6500rpm, 815Nm @3900rpm)
- Transmission: Six-speed close ratio manual, torque vectoring rear wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, muti-link rear w/SupaShock race-honed dampers
- Brakes: AP Racing radical forged monoblock 6-piston brake calipers with 410mm
- front and 372mm rear drilled two-piece rotors
- Steering: Electric power steering
While it might be new to the HSV range, the Chevrolet LS9 V8 is a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 featuring a racecar-style dry sump lubrication system developed for the sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
In its local form it boasts a massive 474kW of power and 815Nm of torque. That's a 44kW and 75Nm jump on the existing GTS, which was already Australia's most powerful production car.
In order to channel that power to the rear wheels, HSV has redesigned the internals of the Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual, and while related to the transmission used in the rest of the HSV range it features beefed-up components to enable to cope with the extra torque. The close ratio set-up is designed to maximise engagement between the engine and driver.
In order to tame the extra grunt from the engine HSV has completely redesigned the suspension, brakes, wheels and tyres for the W1.
HSV director of engineering Joel Stoddart said his team's goal was to incorporate racetrack experience into the W1, giving it a similar suspension set-up to a Supercar on a street circuit. To that end the dampers and springs are significantly stiffer; for example the spring rates are more than two times higher than the standard GTS.
Stopping power has been improved with the fitment of new AP Racing 410mm front brake rotors (up from 392mm) clamped by six-piston calipers. Made from aluminium the new brake package weighs 10 per cent less but has 25 per cent more pad area.
The huge brakes are housed inside 20-inch forged alloy wheels that are half an inch wider front and rear (nine-inches at the front and 10-inches wide at the rear). The new rims are a unique SV Panorama design for the GTSR range and are finished in matte black and with embossed W1 branding.
Wrapping the wheels are Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres, semi-slick track-focused rubber. HSV admits they are not ideally suited to the road if it rains but provide excellent grip in dry conditions, significantly more than the standard Continental tyres on the rest of the range.
To fit the wider tyres and give the GTSR range a unique look, HSV's chief designer Julian Quincey redesigned the front end of the car, adding a new front bumper and, in a first for the brand, new fenders, unique from the Commodore.
The new front quarter panels are made from the same lightweight plastic as the HSV bumper and feature unique vents just behind and above the front wheels. In the case of the W1 those are embellished with genuine carbon fibre, as is the front bumper and rear wing.
The rear diffuser was also redesigned and lifted 55mm higher for better aerodynamics.
As impressive as all that sounds on paper, the specification sheet doesn't do the GTSR W1 justice when you unleash its full potential on the track.
HSV threw us the keys to one of its W1 development vehicles at the Phillip Island circuit and it had no trouble living up to the hype that has built up around it over the last two years.
Firing it up doesn't reveal any major differences to the LSA-powered models, the engine just ticks over with the usual V8 rumble. Select first gear and pick up the clutch and you get your first pleasant surprise. Despite a heavy clutch and beefed up transmission to cope with the extra torque the pedal feel is still relatively light, making it easy to live with.
The second pleasant surprise comes as soon as we're clear of the pitlane and can unleash the LS9. The engine pulls hard from low down in the rev range to launch the W1 with ferocity - and doesn't stop. Even on the fast, flowing Phillip Island layout the W1 never runs out of steam, the supercharged V8 just keeps building speed.
With the corners coming up a rapid rate the new brakes have no trouble slowing the W1, providing a strong bite and good pedal feel allowing you to really push the car to its limits.
But it is the way the W1 corners that is perhaps the most impressive aspect. The new suspension set-up keeps the large sedan noticeably flatter in the corners than the rest of the range with the standard MRC. In combination with the excellent grip from the Pirelli tyres the W1 corners with the confidence and poise you expect from its more expensive European rivals.
Our drive was limited just a few laps but even that short period the W1 has left a strong impression. It certainly lives up to 30 years of history from HSV and demonstrates the company's devotion to working on every detail to make the car as well-rounded as it could be.
It would have been easy for HSV avoid the cost of the GTSR’s engineering program, particularly given the depth of the changes required to make the W1 for such a short production run.
That isn’t the HSV way though. The company wanted to complete this era of Australian-made cars on a high note. The goal was to create the ultimate Australian driver's car and from our first impression it seems they may have succeeded.
Only 300 examples of the W1 will be built and each will retail for $169,990 plus on-road costs. That’s not exactly cheap, but with so few available and the landmark status of the GTSR W1 they will be snapped up in little time.
This may be where the road ends for the Australian-made car industry, but it has been a great journey this is a truly unforgettable destination.
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