2016 HSV Clubsport R8 road test and review.
It’s safe to say that the Gen-F2 HSV range will go out with a bang when Holden ceases local manufacturing of the Commodore in 2017. With the entry level sedan, the 2016 HSV ClubSport R8, packing 400kW and a massive 671Nm of torque, there’s subtlety and brutality in equal measure to be found.
Lurking under the lightweight aluminium bonnet is a 6.2 litres V8 engine complete with a supercharger. It sits ahead of a six speed manual transmission with enough clutch pedal required to test but not wear out the left leg.
The gear selector movement is a delight, clicking through each ratio simply but with weight and under low throttle application, it’s easy to snick the shifter along.
The sledgehammer up front though, is a surprise and delight feature. It’s possible to have it as docile as a slumbering puppy but as cranky as a freshly woken crocodile.
In suburban driving it’s possible to get around at 60 to 80km/h in fourth to fifth, with absolutely no indication of the engine stuttering.
At even lower speeds in fourth, a mere flex of the ankle has the ClubSport R8 upping the ante in a blink of the eye. On the freeway it’s possible to see under 2000rpm on the tacho and license losing speeds just a few seconds later.
Under acceleration and gear change at 4000rpm, there’s a noise like Thor clearing his throat as he whirls his hammer readying for battle.
The downside is the fuel consumption. I had a final figure of 13.1L per 100 km. HSV says it’s a more reasonable 15.3L per 100km on the combined cycle.
At the blunt end of the HSV R8 is a quad tipped exhaust linked to a switch just to the driver’s left in the centre console. Select Touring, and the sound is muffled; twist it clockwise to select Sport or Performance and the note immediately deepens.
In Touring, the steering has enough weight to connect the driver to the front end, but the next two modes increase the heft, the effort needed to twirl the somewhat too thin wheel.
The clutch travel feels two stage; a little practice is all it took, before becoming accustomed to the mechanism.
The brake pedal has minimal travel before there’s positive feedback, with the driver confident of real power to stop the R8.
For a big car the HSV ClubSport R8 is a wonderfully nimble beast. There’s a fairly tight turning circle of 11.4 metres and a surprisingly non-harsh ride quality.
The steering system has been calibrated to give a heavier feel and while the R8 will also change direction with alacrity, there’s always the sense of a mass lurking in the background.
The exterior is possibly the most restrained we’ve seen from HSV. Taking the donor vehicle from Holden, there’s vents inserted into the bonnet, and the new front bumper with LED driving lights sitting above a blacked out and globeless insert with larger nostrils now familiar to HSV.
The interior is also surprising in its subtlety though some more visual appeal would have been welcomed. The plastics need more punch, the electric seats have drab plastic on the side and the dash has black velour only.
Entertainment wise, there’s Holden’s MyLink satnav system, with Pandora and Stitcher apps, and an AM/FM only tuner lacking DAB which doesn’t show off the Bose speaker system.
Being a large sedan, there’s cubic acres of leg space front and rear, a large boot, good vision all around and the usual assortment of hidden driver and safety features such as Forward Collision Alert, Blind Spot Alert, Park Assist and Hill Start Assist. The driver also gets an HUD, which in my opinion is one of the best around.
The 2016 HSV ClubSport R8 has plenty to satisfy anyone’s need for speed with the monster under the bonnet. It’s a fantastic handler with real communication back to the driver and is a better than anticipated ride.
The interior lacks real presence and will have you visiting the bowser more frequently but for around $80,000, if performance is your goal, it’s outstanding value against the Europeans
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 HSV ClubSport R8
Engine: 6.2L turbo petrol producing 400kW and 671Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or automatic
Warranty: 3 Year/100,000km
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $80,990