Holden Special Vehicles recently debuted their enhanced and refreshed line of Commodore VF variants dubbed the “Gen-F” across the eight specialty models built to satisfy power-mad Australians’ thirst for large and fast rear-drive performance models. One highlight in the diverse range is the Clubsport R8 Tourer; a svelte but practical wagon that can be had with optional SV Enhanced power package, forged wheels and launch control to manage the 455-horsepower surge.
Much more than a facelift, the Gen-F series new nose touts the 2013 models’ significant performance enhancements, technology upgrades, and far better infotainment and cabin design on the inside. The big news is that HSV is getting real-time access to the latest GM innovations in a quest to reinvigorate the stalling Australian large-car market with top-end performance models.
Best known for donating its butch platform to the genetic scientists at GM, the Commodore has been used for Cadillacs, Pontiacs and Chevrolets with little commercial success but a big fan following. Until the brand closed in 2009, the Pontiac G8 GT filled an enthusiast gap in the GM lineup with its V-8 grunt, manual transmission and laugh-riot tire shredding – it even won its own re-birth as the current Chevrolet Caprice PPV .
The latest VF series Holden Commodores share a great deal with the 2014 Chevrolet SS . These HSV bruisers, however, count the 2014 Corvette Stingray as their closest relative for shared suspension, safety and technology solutions.
Click past the jump for the full review and images of the just-released 2013 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer with optional SV Enhanced spec.
Holden Special Vehicles very proud of the Gen-F’s new nose, featuring LED DRL’s, and redesigned headlights and grille. The rest of the metal stays pretty consistent with the previous model, whose clean and smooth surfacing looks far classier than its arch-rival in Australia, the bloated and awkward Ford Falcon GT R-spec . Detail changes for the new year include refined rocker-panel extensions and a de-cluttered taillight setup that ditches the tailgate-mounted lamp assemblies on the wagon seen here.
The revisions for the grille and headlights are the most significant style enhancements because the previous grilles were pretty garish and embarrassing. The new setup maintains the sharp twin kidneys in the top grille, paired with a deep lower grille and a wavy-effect honeycomb treatment for the grille mesh. The overall effect is more world-wise and refined, echoing the new Chevrolet SS as well as the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the defunct Suzuki Kizashi around the swooping bumpers and headlamps.
The changes to HSV models over the base Holden Commodores include a much more aggressive lower fascia, extensive functional cooling vents around the driving lights, and totally different grilles. The Commodore ’s nose treatment is much closer to the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia with its rounded chrome grille.
The rear end of ClubSport R8 Tourer is one of its best angles, thanks to its wide, low proportions and quad exhaust tips poking up from the styled diffuser. Unlike most wagons, the R8 Tourer has no roof rack to mar the ultra-sleek-looking design. The menacing effect from the rear matches cars like the Cadillac CTS-V wagon and the Audi RS6 Avant .
Following the lead of the 2014 Corvette Stingray and Chevrolet SS, HSV’s Gen-F cars get a huge tech and comfort upgrade inside. Leading the changes in this all-new interior are upgraded seats and the huge info screen atop the flowing dash. A re-branded, next-generation Chevrolet MyLink includes all the latest connectivity and hands-free calling features within the high-resolution dash touchscreen and gauge-pod info screen.
Other interior features with top billing:
- HSV Performance Seats in Onyx Leather Trim (Performance buckets in Red optional)
- 8-way electric adjustment of driver and front passenger seat
- Multifunction, leather-wrapped sports profile steering wheel with height and reach adjust
- HSV Sports Twin gauges displaying oil pressure and battery voltage
- Centre console ClubSport R8 Tourer I.D. plate
- Leather-wrapped gear selector plus alloy-faced pedals
- Enhanced Driver Interface (EDI) and Driver Preference Dial
- 60/40 split fold rear seats
- Dual Zone Climate Control
Safety takes a step forward with the HSV Gen-F series, thanks to the (almost) full suite of Cadillac XTS driver safety systems, including:
- Full color Head-up Display
- Blindspot warning with cross traffic assistant
- Forward collision alert and lane-departure warning
Missing is adaptive cruise control and city braking tech. Overall, the interior takes a big step in addressing the previous model’s deficiencies, namely its homely materials and ultra-dated design.
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
The power for all fast HSVs is supplied by an LSA small-block 6.2 liter V-8 engine producing 435 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque as standard – the same engine found in the Camaro ZL1 and the Cadillac CTS-V. The standard engine gains about 15 horsepower over last year, while optioning the SV Enhanced package offers additional power gains of 20 in each measure, as well as a bi-modal intake to match the standard bi-modal exhaust. All in, the 2014 ClubSport R8 Tourer SV produces 455 horsepower for an expected 4.2-second 0-to-60 mph time.
From the additional power the LSA is capable of, it is clear that the HSV engines are tuned for stump-pulling torque and long-term reliability over high-strung racing performance. This is no bad thing. It keeps the engine relaxed and loping even at ridiculous speeds, as well as boosting fuel efficiency when cruising.
Paired with either a manual transmission with launch control or a traditional automatic, the ClubSport R8 Tourer is a rocketship in either setup. The exact transmission setups are unknown, but the previous six-speeds are expected to carry over unchanged.
The HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer comes standard with Delphi’s third-generation magneto-rheological dampers – the same used to such acclaim by Audi, Range Rover Evoque , the Ferrari 458 and many other top marques. The dampers offer precision control when driving hard, but a truly relaxed ride quality in its softer settings.
To adjust the major performance parameters, including the suspension and steering, drivers use a new-for-2013 Driver Preference Dial to select among its multiple modes or relaxed the stability control. Braking is by four-piston AP Racing calipers on all sides, paired with the latest brake and oil coolers from the Corvette .
ClubSport R8 Tourer with SV Enhanced package
|Peak power||455 horsepower|
|Peak torque||420 pound-feet|
|0-to-60-mph||4.2 seconds (est.)|
|Top Speed||168 mph (est.)|
Press drives are forthcoming to assess the Gen-F’s claims of far superior rolling refinement, handling finesse and performance stats. On previous evidence, the Gen-F HSV models will be a hoon’s delight with drifts and burn-outs on demand. Hard drivers will be looking to HSV for enhanced high-speed cornering ability, control under brakes and ability to put the power down cleanly.
The station wagon body-style keeps all the sedans’ core mechanicals but packs about 120 extra pounds behind the rear axle. This doesn’t affect acceleration times but will make the R8 Tourer more prone to lift-off over-steer at the limit.
The prices have not been announced but bank on a small increase over last year, with an AUD $65,000 to $72,000 price range with options. At current exchange rates, that’s the same in U.S. dollars. Prestige cars like BMW s and Audis sell in Australia at about a 40-pecent premium over other markets, meaning the ClubSport R8 Tourer comes in about half the price of the equivalent German hot-rod when bought in Australia.
The R8 Tourer’s biggest competition comes from the BMW 535i Touring and Audi A6 3.0T Avant.
Nearly matching the R8 Tourer’s performance is the turbo inline-six BMW 5-series Touring. Better tech, comfort, luxury and handling make even this new Gen-F HSV feel quaint and a little cheap. The HSV Tourer packs a much larger cargo area but fewer drivetrain options.
Gallery BMW 5-Series Touring
The Audi A6 also gets close to HSV’s performance claims via a smaller supercharged six-cylinder. Optional all-wheel drive marks out the BMW and Audi versus the R8 Tourer, as do more refined interiors and more prestigious brands.
Gallery Audi A6 Avant
A fresh face plus the best new suspension and interior technology mean the HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer is finally up to speed versus its premium rivals. Justifying large-car fuel consumption is a lot easier when it comes in this sweet four-door V-8 shell. In fact, the latest Gen-F refinements simply help the core vehicle strengths to shine through.
Evidence of HSV’s excellence comes from the fundamental quality of its engineering and shared Corvette and Camaro components. Big aluminum V-8 up front, power out back, plus all the kids, dogs and luggage you can find. No longer getting cast-off parts and discount crate motors, the HSV Gen-F lineup arrives in showrooms a polished and refined machine that barely acknowledges its Commodore roots.
From the stomping performance to that bellowing V-8’s exhaust howl – the HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer will make a few lucky guys the happiest dads on the block.
- Bellowing V-8 soundtrack; mechanical layout
- Performance up there with premium super-wagons
- Tasteful facelift maintains clean design
- Rear-wheel-drive only
- Would make a killer Buick Roadmaster Gran Sport
- Limited availability; no U.S. sales prospects
Gallery HSV Gen-F ClubSport R8 Tourer
HSV Confirms Release of Gen-F
Australia’s performance car leader, HSV, today announced that its hotly anticipated new model range will be dubbed GEN-F.
Breaking with recent tradition of naming their vehicles using a series nomenclature (E Series 1, E Series 2, E Series 3), HSV needed to look further afield to overcome legal and marketing clashes.
“It was obvious, from the beginning, that we were going to have to adjust our approach, because F Series or F1 wasn’t going to work” said HSV Director of Sales ’ Marketing Tim Jackson.
“We had three basic objectives. Firstly, we needed to ensure we referenced our vehicle’s relationship with Holden’s VF. Secondly, we have a new generation vehicle so we wanted to use language that people would find easily relatable. And finally, we wanted it to be simple.”
“GEN-F almost picked itself”, added Jackson.
Jackson also indicated some of the rumours surrounding GEN-F were on the mark, but was holding confirmation back until the official release date. “There has been plenty of speculation so you can expect that some of it is accurate. I am just not going to reveal what’s accurate today. We will reveal all on May 15, which will be approximately a month before customers will be able to see the vehicles in the showroom”.