2016 HSV Clubsport R8 LSA long term car review, part 2

HSV Clubsport R8 LSA Tourer

ONE of my favourite games to play, usually with friends at the pub, is ‘One Car For Life’. The premise is simple: players are asked to name the one car they’d be willing to drive, forever. In choosing, you’re excluding all others for eternity, so think of it as nominating your permanent one-car garage.

Easy, right? Well, not really. Most make the rookie mistake of picking a sports car, often a Porsche 911, which is brilliant, until they realise they have kids. And a dog. And occasionally need to tow things.

Powerful SUVs are popular, too, like a Porsche Cayenne GTS or Range Rover Sport SVR. But I don’t want to drive an SUV for the rest of my life.

My choice, and I’m quite proud of this, has long been the Audi RS6. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of cars, capable of lugging five adults (and a Labraschnoodle) in supreme comfort, yet powerful enough to blow supercars off at the lights. Case closed.

Or so I thought. Second month in and the Clubsport wagon continues to have me hooked. There’s something deeply satisfying about driving a car with this much grunt, especially when its onboard electronics are calibrated so brilliantly.

HSV-Club Sport -R8-Tourer -rearThis month has been spent exploring the Drive Mode Select dial, which comprises three settings: Tour, Sport and Performance. Cycling through them loosens the electronic nanny to the point where, with Performance mode engaged, you almost feel like you’re on your own. You aren’t, but it does allow for a large amount of slip, and after a month of exhaustive testing I can’t think of another car that breaks traction as smoothly, or predictably, as this.

Admittedly, this is childish (Harold Scruby would say hoonish), but I hope you’ll agree it’s also brilliant fun.

I’m even starting to like the way the Clubby sounds, despite my initial misgivings about its flat, unimaginative exhaust note low in the rev-range. The trick is to keep the big blown V8 above 4200rpm, where it bellows, crackles and delivers upshifts with an addictive brrrraaaaaapppp.

The downside to all this is higher fuel bills. Dialling in Sport or Performance has seen my consumption jump from 11s to 17s. And I’m not convinced about the steering, either, which is fine in Tour but too heavy for my taste in the other modes.

So has the HSV trumped the RS6 as my One Car For Life? Almost. I’m still drawn to the Audi’s luxury, build quality and warp-factor acceleration. But I also know the Clubby’s rear-drive layout and tail-happy character would be more fun.

Biting the hand that feeds you

Here’s some friendly advice: If you buy a Gen-F2 Clubsport, take care when washing that newly designed front bar. Turns out the new black plastic inserts below the LED strips don’t just look aggressive – they bite. This rather painful discovery occurred during the wagon’s first tub, when I thrust my hand and sponge into the big black void only to slice off half my index finger (well, that’s what it felt like) on a sharp plastic edge. Ouch!

Read part one of our HSV Clubsport R8 LSA long-term car review.

Price as tested: $85,990
Part 2: 2060km @ 12.9L/100km
Overall: 4615km @ 12.7L/100km
Odometer: 10183km
Date acquired: March 2016


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