HSV’s limited run Clubsport R8 Track Edition gives an indication of what the performance-focused brand is thinking for future imported models.
With the imminent demise of locally-produced V8 HSVs – they will be killed off in conjunction with the end of Australian production of the Commodore late in 2017 – HSV has created a celebration model designed for track thrashes as well as spirited road drives.
It uses the least powerful HSV engine currently produced – the naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre LS3 V8. It makes 340kW, well down on the 400kW from the Clubsport R8 LSA and the 430kW in the GTS, two cars that use the 6.2-litre LSA supercharged V8.
Instead, the Track Edition focuses on cornering and braking.
Key to the changes to the Track Edition are the six-piston AP Racing brakes previously reserved for the HSV GTS flagship. They’re a potent set of stoppers more than up to the task of the faster GTS and promise to give the Clubsport newfound anchors for heavy track use.
HSV has also developed a unique suspension tune that is significantly stiffer than that used on the Clubsport that was discontinued with the arrival of the Commodore VF Series II-based Gen-F models late in 2015.
While HSV also considered fitting its fancy EDI (Enhanced Driver Interface) data logging system or the Magnetic Ride Control adjustable dampers, HSV executives decided the brakes and suspension tweaks were the most appealing items for what is a $68,990 car, of which just 156 will be produced (150 for Australia and 6 for New Zealand). Eliminating those other two big ticket items helped keep the price down, making the Track Edition some $12,000 less than the most affordable LSA-equipped Clubsport.
Under the bonnet of the Track Edition is a familiar piece of LS3 kit. The Track Edition utilises the naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 previously used on HSVs, an engine tune that will in November fall foul of stricter Euro 5 emissions standards (Holden has adapted the 304kW of the same engine to meet the new emissions standards but HSV decided against the multi-million engineering investment for its higher output version of the LS3).
The only under-bonnet modification to the Track Edition – as with the other limited edition LS3 HSVs, the SV Black and Grange SV - is the adaptation of the mechanical sound enhancer developed by Holden engineers for V8-powered Commodores.
In conjunction with HSV’s bi-modal exhaust it promises to create the most tantalising V8 sound of any HSV for years.
Other changes are cosmetic. The Track Edition features blacked-out exterior highlights, which replaces chrome finishes with black; the HSV badge, grille surrounds, mirror casings, front guard side vents, tail light surrounds and lower side skirts. Even the 20-inch Blade alloy wheels (previously reserved for the GTS) have a “dark stainless” finish, while the exhaust tips are finished in shadow chrome.
While HSV isn’t saying so at the moment, the Track Edition appears to be a toe-in-the-water exercise to test the market for vehicles aimed at track use rather than outright performance.
“Given the unique track-inspired content, the sharp pricing and the fact that these will be the very last LS3 Clubsport R8s ever built, we’re anticipating strong demand”, said Jackson.
The Track Edition will be the last HSV to utilise the LS3 engine, an engine first seen in HSVs in 2008 and, before that, in the Chevrolet Corvette.
HSV Clubsport R8 Track Edition
Engine: 6200cc V8
Max power: 340kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 570Nm @ 4600rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto
Kerb weight: TBA
On sale: September, 2016