As the most recognisable and popular nameplate in the HSV stable, ClubSport has always epitomised the brand’s core values of outstanding sporting performance combined with exceptional value for money but the latest E Series ClubSport R8 elevates that equation to a stratospheric new level. totally fresh from the ground up - with 301 individual and unique HSV enhancements, it brings even more street-wise road presence, more performance technologies and more driver oriented sporting appointments, yet the price is actually below that of the outgoing model.
While there is no doubt that it makes an extraordinary value for money offering, such are the incredible new credentials carried by E Series ClubSport R8 it’s now a high performance sporting sedan that can hold its head high against the world’s best either locally or in overseas markets.
Styling and design
In traditional HSV fashion, the ‘Sports Performance’ styling package makes a big, bold and very assertive statement. The finely chiselled twin-nostril grille tops a front facia that features a dynamic lower intake complete with V8 Supercar-like pseudo brake cooling ducts and a set of driving and fog lamps.
The side elevation is dominated by E Series signature fender vents (consisting of a totally unique to HSV fully metal pressed lower guard section) and the striking 19-inch alloy wheel design which deliberately exposes the awesome new HSV brake package, as well as emphasising the vehicle’s rear drivetrain.
The rear statement is no less bold with a lower diffuser section that carries design cues seen in the storming GTS-R show car, a set of ultra-cool quad exhaust outlets and, arguably ‘the jewel in the crown’, LED rear lamps. Mounted below the rising side featureline, the hi-tech twin intercepting LED circles look stunning, as well as giving a low, wide look to the rear of the car. They’re also a key point of differentiation since they don’t just replace the Holden lamps – they actually require a new rear facia, rear fender cap, electrical body harness and mounting system. Further raising the overall level of visual sophistication is an HSV ‘first’, high quality, moulded mesh material used front and rear.
The interior, too, is all new with a totally integrated appearance that creates a strongly upmarket sporting character. Colour combinations and quality trim materials have been carefully selected to reinforce the message and there’s a unique ClubSport R8 sporting seat design. Sporting highlights include a unique HSV instrument cluster, as well as a smoothly integrated three gauge, dash top auxiliary gauge cluster, incorporating ventilation vents and a chunky design steering wheel rim.
Engineering and technology
While styling makes a breathtaking first impression, it’s also backed up with extensive engineering program and injection of technology that’s just as outstanding.
ClubSport R8’s unique-to-HSV 6.0 litre LS2 V8 now produces an even more exhilarating 307kW @ 6000 rpm (from 297kW @ 6000rpm) and 550Nm @ 4400rpm (from 530Nm @ 4400rpm) thanks to a revised intake and exhaust system (including new smooth flowing ‘four-into-two-into-one’ tubular extractors) and a 24 month program to refine the engine calibrations. That not only makes ClubSport R8 (and its E Series stable-mates) the fastest HSV and one of the fastest sedans in the world, it also makes it a member of the ultra-elite ‘four second’ club.
A manual version – featuring an upgraded MIO Tremec T56 six-speed manual with an improved gear shift mechanism for smoother and faster shifting – now takes a scintillating 4.96 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint.
The all new automatic transmission – in the form of the 6L80 E six-speed unit – takes only fractionally longer and clocks just 5.04 seconds to reach100km/hr from zero. The new auto has been specifically calibrated to deliver smooth but firm up-shifts and includes a ‘Tiptronic’ function. As a true driver’s car, it will hold selected gears without up-shifting, even when the engine is taken to the rev limiter.
In addition, HSV has invested heavily in unique differential ratios – automatics 3.27:1 and manuals 3.70:1 – aimed at producing extra launch urge.
Importantly, braking performance is also at the very top tier of world class. Developed in conjunction with AP Racing, it consists of enormous (365mm front and 350mm rear) grooved and ventilated rotors complete with extremely rigid HSV specific four piston front callipers that reduce flexing and improve pedal feel and performance. There’s also the latest HSV-tuned Bosch ABS system and more linear friction levels from the new brake pad material.
To its electronic driving aid arsenal, ClubSport R8 now incorporates the cutting edge technology of Electronic Stability Control (ESC). It has been developed, calibrated and tested specifically to HSV requirements to deliver improved overall safety levels without detracting from the traditional HSV driving experience.
ClubSport R8’s HSV ‘Touring Suspension’ is tuned for driving enjoyment. It incorporates more linear springs (less progression) to enhance the initial steering inputs and delivers an agile, responsive feel, as well as front rebound springs (inserted in the shock absorber) which effectively reduce front roll to give a sharper turn-in feel. The longer wheelbase of the new chassis brings a bonus in a smoother, more compliant and refined ride quality.
To further exploit the rear grip of the new chassis, the front and rear wheel sizes now differ in width – 8-inch front and 9.5 inch rears. 19-inch wheels remain standard and they’re joined by new tyres specifically developed in conjunction with Bridgestone and featuring unique construction, belt angle and tread compound tuned to the ClubSport R8 suspension system.