Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2014 HSV GTS.
Australia’s most powerful, most expensive car ever is the 2014 HSV GTS, and it packs one almighty punch.
Based on the VF Commodore, the HSV GTS is refined and handsome and equally at home pottering around the suburbs as it is tearing up a racetrack.
Endowed with a monumental 6.2 litre Supercharged V8, the power outputs are staggering: 430kW and 760Nm! There are only a handful of supercars that play at this level, and all of them are at least twice the price.
While the HSV GTS is considerably cheaper than its high-end European counterparts, it can still induce sticker shock, particularly when you factor in its humble origins.
A manual version of the GTS will set you back $94,900. Add another two and a half grand for a self-shifting transmission, $1990 for a sunroof…tack on the on road costs and you’re north of $100,000.
Some may baulk at paying that much money for what is essentially just a tweaked and massaged Commodore, however with the run of Aussie built muscle cars fast coming to an end, the possibility of this HSV being a great investment is very real.
The GTS provides a thrilling driving experience. HSV claim a 0-100km/h time of 4.4 seconds, and in combination with the hi-flow bi-modal exhaust, it sounds as fast as it goes. Getting 430kW and 740Nm to the ground is a challenge, but the engineers at Holden and HSV have done a brilliant job of making it possible…as long as it’s dry.
Unfortunately most of my brief time in the 6-Speed automatic HSV was spent on wet Melbourne roads and the electronic nannies were working overtime. Put your foot down on the freeway at 90 km/h and the back wheels spin in damp conditions. Same thing taking off from the traffic lights, and through roundabouts, and up hills…you get the picture.
Thankfully the tuning of the electronic stability control, traction control and torque vectoring system keeps everything on the straight an narrow while not removing too much of the fun.
The ride needs to be acknowledged. Plush and comfortable in touring mode, taught and lacking body roll in sports, performance and race modes. The HSV GTS is a big car, however from behind the wheel it seems to wrap around you and feel a lot smaller than it actually is.
It’s thanks to the semi-active suspension with magnetic dampers, which are well sorted and always delivers the right setup for the conditions. The steering is well weighted, provides great feedback and is endowed with a delicateness that translates inputs to produce a supremely adjustable and utterly capable handler.
The “Driver Preference Dial” positioned on the centre console beneath the gear selector allows you to flick through touring, sports, performance and race modes with each one varying the ferocity of the ESC, traction control, steering calibration, magnetic ride, torque vectoring and bi-modal exhaust.
The manual GTS also gets a launch-control feature that the automatic version misses out on.
While the GTS has the performance credentials, it isn’t left wanting for goodies. Standard fare includes 20-inch forged alloy wheels, onyx leather trim, head-up display, automatic parking, 9-Speaker Bose Audio System, dual-zone climate control and push-button start.
Exclusive to the HSV is EDI (Enhanced Driver Interface), providing all the controls for streaming music and phones, sat-nav and climate systems. It also incudes gauges that display power outputs in kilowatts and torque, stopwatch/lap-time features and g-force metres…not essential equipment sure, but it’s a lot of fun.
You can even download info onto a USB stick for further analysis on your home computer.
The interior is nicely executed and reasonably classy with lots of carbon & suede finishes, and the 8-way, electrically adjustable “Performance” seats are big and comfortable. The architecture of the dash is transplanted straight from the garden variety Commodores; it is logical, functional and attractive, although some may find it a little underdone considering the price tag.
There is plenty of space front and rear, visibility is good and the boot is enormous, although quite a lot of boot space was eaten up by the spare tyre that sits in the boot, as opposed to in a well under the boot floor – I can only assume it’s to big to fit anywhere else.
The latest safety gear includes forward collision alert, lane departure warning and blind zone monitoring, along with the usual suite of air-bags.
Overall the HSV GTS deserves to a lot of praise. It demonstrates some brilliant Aussie engineering, delivers blistering pace and poise and, when lined up against similarly equipped cars, is great value for money. To many, it won’t make sense, but for purists who hanker for genuine muscle in their muscle cars, the HSV GTS is set to become a legend.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 6.2 litre supercharged V8 producing 430kW and 740Nm
Transmission: Six speed manual (as tested) or six speed heavy duty automatic
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $94,900
Photos by Jeff Cooper. Contact Jeff at email@example.com