top-nav-left top-nav-right

Article Search




New Zealanders will soon be able to buy the fastest-accelerating production Holden ever built; a car that can foot it with and outrun American pony car legends Camaro and Mustang.

The HSV Coupe GTS, the more potent of the two Holden Special Vehicles versions of the new Monaro, will go on sale here around May. It will cost somewhere over $100,000. Holden is coy about releasing prices till nearer the model's launch. But in Australia, where the car was revealed last week, it will sell for $A94,750. The only option offered for the road-going supercar is satellite navigation for $A3800.

HSV says the car will hit 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and sprint the standing 400 metres in an electric 13.3 seconds.

The 0 to 100 time is clearly quicker than both the Chevrolet Camaro SS and the Ford Mustang SVT Cobra.

Authoritative US magazine Motor Trend, in a test in its December 2001 issue, clocked the Camaro at 5.19s to 96km/h and the Ford at 5.38s.

The Chevy was ballpark with the Holden in the longer sprint. It covered the quarter mile in 13.49 seconds. The Ford was three-tenths of a second slower.

The Holden runs a 3.92:1 final drive ratio, compared with the Chev's 3.42:1 and the Ford's 3.27:1.

Both the Holden and the Chev have 5.7-litre V8s, but the Ford has to make do with 4.6 litres.

Motor Trend summed up by saying that the Camaro was better at making speed and the Mustang was better at handling it.

And the HSV? No motoring journalists have driven it yet, but if it's the usual HSV product it will do both - make speed and handle it.

The starting point, the Monaro, is sharper and more responsive-handling than the VX II Commodore, and HSVs are usually better handling again than their Commodore donor cars.

So you can expect the HSV - which Mark Skaife has helped develop - will be a fine-handling car.

HSV's second Coupe - it eschews the Monaro nametag - is the GTO, with 255kW to the GTS' 300.

It's not slouch either, cutting out the 100km/h sprint in 5.7 seconds and the standing 400 metres in 13.9s.

The Coupes are HSV's first-ever two-door models.

No-one would ever expect an Australian executive to understate the excellence of his product, and HSV's national sales and marketing manager Mark Behr certainly isn't talk down the merits of his new flagship.

"Holden's Monaro provides us with an excellent platform from which we have developed two of the world's most exciting cars," he says. "Not since theearly '70s have we seen the release of such exciting, passionate performance cars."

Having driven the V8 Monaro on road and track, we're convinced Behr isn't overstating the case.

These look to be very special cars indeed.

And, as Holden's styling ace Mike Simcoe did with the Monaro, HSV has taken a relatively restrained line with the Coupe re-styling.

Though clearly HSV Commodore based, the cars - like the Monaro - are unique from the base of the windscreen back.

The screen is raked an extra two degrees, the roof is 40mm lower and 100mm has been trimmed off the rear overhang.

HSV used Computer Aided Design (CAD) extensively to bring the car to the public less than two months behind the Monaro (Holden itself made extensive use of computer-aided design to turn the car from Coupe concept to Monaro in 22 months).

HSV did the car's clay modelling at Holden's studios and used computer clay machining extensively.

The styling was done on computer using Alias software and downloaded to a computerised clay cutting and milling machine which produced the full-sized clay model.

"We've used complete the HSV's development programme in about 16 months," says HSV engineering manager John Clark.

HSV parent company TWR chief designer Neil Simpson penned the Coupe's lines, aiming to give the car a clear HSV identity. It has a central grille bar which he sees as an HSV signature. The HSV look is reinforced by the front fascia's lower aperture and at the rear by the fascia and the roof and bootlid spoilers. "I wanted the car to be recognisable as an HSV from all angles," says Simpson.

He kept the bootlid spoiler flat with the lid "so it really gives some speed and length to the car without being overly aggressive."

The three-piece rear spoiler is an HSV first as are the three element projector headlights and distinctive taillights.

The three side skirt vents - HSV calls them shark gills - hint at the 1968 Monaro GTS. So do the retro-styled injection-moulded badges on the side skirts. They're chromed and feature a 3D effect - grey for the GTO and red for the GTS.

Standard equipment includes dual zone automatic climate-control air-conditioning, eight-speaker 10-stack Compact Disc sound system, eight-way electrically-adjustable driver's seat and leather upholstery.

The GTO - expected to be the bigger seller with its Australian pricetag of $73,750 (same price for manuals and autos: GTS is manual-only) - revives a nameplate used on Pontiac's legendary 1960s muscle car. The US GTO started the muscle car era which spawned the pony cars of which the Monaro is a descendent.

The GTO Coupe has its own-design 18-inch diameter alloy wheels which take their styling theme from the 1968 HK Monaro's wheels.

The engine is the Chevrolet LS1-based GEN III 5.7-litre V8 delivering 255kW and peak torque of 475Nm.

Gearboxes are a four-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.

The manual has the Quick-Shift short-throw mechanism.

The HSV grooved Performance {package four-wheel disc brake package is standard. The cross-drilled Premium brake system is available for an extra $A2600.

Onyx black leather upholstery is standard, but three other options are offered - red, tan or yellow - keyed to the car's exterior colour.

Performance suspension is a $A750 option.

The GTS gets the awesome Callaway-enhanced 300kW V8 with a potent 510Nm of peak torque. The only gearbox offered is the six-speed manual.

The GTS gets a powerful braking pack, the HSV Six-piston which was developed jointly with AP Racing.

It consists of 362mm front and 343mm rear discs, both grooved and cross-drilled. Front callipers are six-piston, rears are four-calliper.

The GTS gets contrasting colour accents on front and rear bumpers and side skirts and 19-inch wheels. Bosch rear proximity sensors for backing are standard on the GTS.

Leather, imported from Scotland, is used on the seats. A special embossing technique creates a metallic effect called Chain-Mail. It's used as an in serton the black leather. The dashboard is grey metal coloured.

Development driver Skaife says the Coupes are the best-handling HSVs ever.

The basic suspension is carried over from the VX II HSVs, but the more rigid Monaro bodyshell allowed the chassis engineers to produce a sharper handling car without sacrificing a supple ride quality.

HSV says confidently that the Coupes set a new handling benchmark for its cars, both in terms of handling a ride.

The only recent HSV we've driven, the VX I Clubsport, is among the best-handling cars we've ever driven and has a finely-tuned ride. If HSV's claims for the Coupes prove to be on the button - and given their track record of producing superb driver's cars we see no reason why they wouldn't - then Coupe buyers are going to be in for a treat. HSV has developed a special steering rack for the HSV.

HSV says it has 300 firm orders for Coupes, a high percentage of the for the GTS. IT starts building the GTO in late January and the GTS in February.

HSV boss John Crennan calls the Coupe "the next defining moment" in HSV history.

"BY any measure, HSV's Coupe models are a great value for money story for a world-class high-performance V8 two-door sports model.

"I believe that if the HSV Coupe was released exactly as is but with BMW badges, the price would be $150,000-plus."

Auto Trader New Zealand