Click here to View Our Other Publication
Drive Life : May 21st 2010
1HERSA1 F012 12 Drive Life May 21, 2010 drive.com.au Brawn on a budget THE COMPETITORS * Prices are recommended retail and exclude dealer and on-road costs. FPV GT Price $67,980 Engine 5.4-litre V8; 315kW/ 551Nm; 14.0L/100km; 334g/km CO2;RWD Safety 6 airbags; stability control Fo r Sharp steering; well- appointed cabin; comfortable ride; auto a no-cost option. Against Muted exhaust note; not as quick as power numbers suggest; new supercharged V8 expected by end of year. Our score Not yet rated HSV GXP HSV lowers the joining fee for its high-performance Commodore Club. CHRYSLER 300C SRT8 Price $74,990 Engine 6.1-litre V8; 317kW/ 569Nm; 14.2L/100km; 337g/km CO2;RWD Safety 6 airbags; stability control Fo r Telemetry-style trip computer; wonderful-sounding V8; plenty of shove. Against Expensive compared with locals; handling not as sharp. Our score II SUBARU LIBERTY GT Price $54,990 Engine 2.5-litre turbocharged 4-cyl; 195kW/350Nm; 9.7L/100km; 228g/km CO2;AWD Safety 7 airbags; stability control Fo r Brisk acceleration; lower price tag; well-appointed, including standard satellite navigation. Against Awkward looks; vague steering; soft suspension for a performance car. Our score JII Price $61,990 driveaway Country of origin Australia Engine 6.2-litre V8 Power 317kW at 6000rpm Torque 550Nm at 4600rpm Consumption and CO2 emissions 13.9L/100km, 329g/km Transmission 6-speed automatic, RWD Weight 1822 kilograms Safety 6 airbags and stability control Pros Awesome V8 power for the money; impressive compromise between comfortable ride and sharp handling; loads of room; meaty steering feel; good value. Cons Thirsty around town; interior looks a little dated; windscreen pillar obstructs vision; hefty weight limits nimbleness through tighter corners. Our score I THE TEST RICHARD BLACKBURN If you thought the days of the home-grown V8 sedan were numbered, think again. Holden's hot-rod division, HSV, says sales were up by almost 70 per cent in the first three months of this year. While some of that dramatic improvement is due to lousy sales for the same period last year, there's no denying that the future's looking brighter for the specialist home- grown muscle-car maker. Part of HSV's recent success lies with the new special edition GXP ute and sedan; more affordable -- and partly stripped-down -- versions of its ever-popular ClubSport sedan and Maloo ute. As HSV has added more gear to the ClubSport, it has drifted out of the reach of some Holden enthusiasts, leaving too big a financial leap from the regular Holden V8s. The limited run of GXPs (400 sedans and 350 utes) is designed to bridge that gap. At first glance, it's not easy to tell the GXP from the pricier ClubSport. The two look identical from the front, with the same aggressive racing-car-inspired styling. The wheels and sideskirts are different, though, and the rear end is closer to the Holden Commodore SS-V than the ClubSport, with Holden tail- lights and a Commodore bumper. At $61,990 driveaway, the automatic sedan we tested is roughly $10,000 less than a ClubSport, which is $68,690 plus on-road costs. WHAT DO YOU GET? At first glance, the GXP's cabin looks a step down from the cheaper SS-V, which has standard leather upholstery but there are other goodies to compensate. The GXP gets the ClubSport dash treatment, with three racy white- backed dials above the centre stack displaying battery voltage, oil pressure and oil temperature. Other standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control airconditioning, steering wheel audio controls and a comprehensive trip computer, including a digital speedo. Rear parking sensors are a notable omission. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, while the sports bucket seats are partially electrically adjustable on the driver's side. But the real value of the GXP over the SS lies beneath the surface. The GXP gets a bigger, beefier 6.2-litre V8 with 20 per cent more power. There are also bigger four- piston brakes on the front and a completely revised front end with LED daytime running lights and more aggressive styling. There are also dashes of chrome on the side vents, mirrors and door handles. At the rear, there's a lip spoiler that is positively tame by HSV standards. The GXP gets the standard Commodore's six airbags and stability control but HSV's head restraints are adjustable on all five seats, offering better whiplash protection than the standard Commodore. Compared with the standard ClubSport, the GXP misses out on high-performance brakes, wider rear tyres, sports suspension, rear parking sensors and more distinctive rear styling. WHAT'S INSIDE As a long-distance tourer, the GXP takes a lot of beating. The seats are comfortable and supportive, with enough adjustment to accommodate any body shape. There are acres of leg and headroom for both front and rear passengers, the cabin has heaps of storage space and the boot is generous. All the fingertip controls on the steering wheel are simple to navigate and the instrument panel is easy to read, while the big, chunky, flat- bottomed leather steering wheel adds to the sporty feel. But the cabin still lacks the up- market feel many would expect from a circa-$60,000 car. The Commodore interior is almost four years old now and in need of a cosmetic uplift. UNDER THE BONNET The GXP packs more muscle than an NRL dressing room. Its 6.2-litre V8 isn't just a re-tune of the SS's existing V8, it's a different beast altogether, with more capacity and almost 60kW more power. The difference is easily discernible by the seat of the pants. The engine feels stronger from the word go and is more willing to explore the upper reaches of its rev range. It also comes with a great V8 soundtrack, delivered via quad tailpipes. There are few cars in the world that give you so much brute force for such little money. The six-speed automatic transmission on our test car was a little clunky at times, not reacting quickly and smoothly enough to driver inputs. It was more responsive in sports mode, where it hung on to gears for longer to give you better drive out of low-speed corners. On the open road, the big V8 is surprisingly efficient: we managed less than 11 litres per 100 kilometres on the freeway. Around town, or pushed along a twisty country road, the number quickly blows out to 20L/100km, though. The bigger engine doesn't get Holden's active fuel management system, which cuts out cylinders when the car is cruising to deliver better fuel consumption. ON THE ROAD The GXP has a softer suspension tune to the ClubSport and SS-V. It was developed for the US market, where the emphasis is more on comfort than cornering ability. A softer tune doesn't usually appeal to Australian tastes but the ride and handling compromise on the GXP is impressive. Around town and on rougher secondary roads, the GXP remains composed and comfortable over the bumps, while losing little in outright cornering ability and grip. The steering, while not as sharp as some rivals, is well-weighted and accurate. The only real blot on the copybook is the thick windscreen pillar, which impedes vision through corners. Road noise was well suppressed for the most part, although our test car had a knock in the front suspension over bumps. The GXP doesn't get the wider rear tyres of the ClubSport or the bigger brakes but only hardcore enthusiasts are likely to feel shortchanged. VERDICT As with all niche products, the GXP won't appeal to all tastes. Some will find the front end too glitzy for a premium offering and will consider the cleaner lines -- and $20,000 lower price tag -- of the SS Commodore more appealing. But it's easy to see the extra value in the GXP, from its brutal V8 engine and bigger Brembo brakes to its more aggressive styling and sportier, supportive seats. It may be more pampering than posh inside, but if you're looking for maximum bang for your buck, there are very few cars that can compete. No wonder there are already murmurs that another -- more affordable -- batch of HSVs will continue after the limited- edition GXP.
May 14th 2010
May 28th 2010