Last action heroes

HSV sends off the all-Aussie muscle car with a bang, not a whimper

NATHAN PONCHARD

AUSTRALIA’S last-ever homegrown super-sedan range will bid farewell with a torrent of piping-hot V8s. HSV’s 2017 line-up will not only see the revival of the long-rumoured GTS-R badge – last seen on the ‘be-winged banana’ VS GTS-R in 1996 – but there will be a limited-run mega-sedan sitting above and beyond even the ‘regular’ GTS-R, called GTS-R W1.

Packing the Chevy Corvette ZR1’s epic dry-sumped 6.2-litre LS9 supercharged bent-eight instead of the regular GTS-R’s tweaked LSA unit, the W1 will justifiably sit right at the top of Australia’s balls-out, muscle-car hierarchy.

And it won’t be just numbers on a dyno sheet either. While “in excess of 470kW and 800Nm” are worthy of their own cult worship (as we went to press, official figures were

THREE MODEL GTS-R RANGE

yet to be finalised), the W1 will back up this beef injection with a raft of upgrades to gearbox, suspension, wheels and tyres intended to ensure that it’ll be the closest thing we’ll ever see to a V8 Supercar for the road.

With volume to be capped at just 300 units, the W1 appears destined to become the GT-HO Phase III of its era. But HSV will also produce a regular-production GTS-R line – a sedan (from $109,490) and a Maloo ute (from $96,990) – to satisfy the inevitable demand for Australia’s last-ever domestic muscle cars.

Based on the updated MY17 GTS, the new GTS-R scores a bunch of engineering enhancements including a K&N high-flow air filter, nudging the output of its blown 6.2-litre LSA V8 to 435kW (but still with 740Nm). Its six-piston brake package cops a ‘premium’ upgrade too, featuring larger 410mm front discs (up from 390mm units) with monobloc calipers and Ferodo pads behind new 20-inch forged wheels in a dark stainless finish.

The rims themselves are half an inch wider at both ends (9.0-inches front, 10-inches rear), forcing 12mm-wider front guards on each side with chunky new vents unique to GTS-R. And the front-end amps up the visual menace, too, with a restyled, more aggressive fascia, larger air intakes and a “race-inspired” front splitter.

At the rear, the GTS-R sedan gets a completely new fascia with large side ‘vents’, while both sedan and ute feature new diffuser inserts.

Diamond-shaped exhaust outlets exclusive to GTS-R house the dual exhaust tips on each side, co featur

DONK DYNASTY

So, what does the LS9 offer over the LSA? Both have the same block, bore and stroke, and compression ratio, but that’s where the key similarities end. The LS9 runs titanium forged rods and forged pistons, gets a larger 2.3-litre supercharger (versus LSA’s 1.9L), a bigger intercooler, and it revs harder by 400rpm.

GTS-R W1 is the closest thing to a road-going V8 Supercar ever built

Diamond-shaped outlets for GTS-R models house dual bi-modal exhausts

rear spoiler with carbonfibre section W1 has exclusive

whereas the regular GTS keeps its four individual pipes. And GTS-R sedan features a unique rear spoiler – “integrated, cohesive and appropriate”, according to HSV, unlike the original ’96 GTS-R’s laughably enormous wing (as was the fashion at the time).

Inside GTS-R sedan and Maloo GTS-R, HSV’s excellent seats receive Alcantara inserts with diamond-quilted stitching and leather outer bolsters, in conjunction with a new start-up screen for the ‘Driver Interface’ set-up, also fitted to MY17 GTS.

The W1 one-ups the regular GTS-R in a bunch of areas. Unlike the manual or auto options on the LSA, the W1’s dry-sumped LS9 (with carbonfibre airbox) will be offered solely with a sixspeed manual ’box – a close-ratio Tremec unit. And W1’s suspension will ditch the standard GTS-R’s excellent Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) arrangement for a unique, fixed-damper ‘Supashock’ set-up, taken directly from the Walkinshaw race car but refined for road driving.

Visually, the W1 builds on the already-smokin’ GTS-R with a few subtle but worthwhile extras.

Additional ‘W1’ front guard and bootlid badges, a unique “carbonfibre-upper” rear spoiler, matte-black for the scalloped section of the side skirts, and unique tyres for the 20-inch forged wheels shared with GTS-R – Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber measuring 265/35R20 up front, 295/30R20 at the back (instead of 255/35 front and 275/35 rear).

Inside, W1 again takes the whole GTS-R upgrade a step further with full Alcantara facings for its diamond-quilted seats, ‘W1’ embroided into the headrests, and stitched Alcantara wrapping for its steering wheel and gearknob.

With a retail sticker of $169,990, the W1 is even more expensive than the exxy 7.0-litre W427 from 2008. But no matter the cost, this LS9 beast will fly out the door. Sales begin February 1 with production starting early April. As one of the most hardcore four-doors ever produced by a GM brand, it’s a fitting send-off to Australia’s fastest-ever car.

MEANWHILE...

HSV’s ‘standard’ MY17 line-up will debut with Clubsport R8 LSA sedan and Tourer, Maloo R8 LSA ute and Senator Signature sedan featuring a 410kW/691Nm engine tune and a tweaked bi-modal exhaust with flaps opening earlier than before (previously 4000rpm). Torque vectoring is now standard across the entire range, while ‘30th anniversary’ content includes sill plates, floor mats, badgework and a rear-window sticker.

Matte-black wheel accents feature on all MY17s, while Senator now gets 20-inch SV Rapier forged alloys standard. The 430kW/740Nm GTS sedan will continue as the rangetopper for the ‘regular’ HSV model line.

Same 20in rims as GTS-R but W1 gets fatter Pirelli rubber (295/30R20 at rear!)

12mm-wider front guards get unique ‘vents’ but only W1’s are made from carbonfibre