HSV has shoehorned its 400kW supercharged V8 into its fast family station wagon. The result is a performance car bargain with huge power and well-judged dynamics, yet still enough space, practicality and comfort for the daily school run.
TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
This is no ordinary station wagon – it’s a performance car masquerading as a hum-drum family hauler. While HSV’s Clubsport R8 LSA Tourer has a big boot and room for five adults, it also boasts a snarling, supercharged V8 with enough grunt to worry a Porsche in a traffic light grand prix.
- Performance. Under that vented bonnet lies the same 6.2-litre supercharged V8 found in HSV’s flagship GTS, only in a lesser 400kW/671Nm tune. It’s a beastly engine, and is powerful enough to propel the Clubsport Tourer from 0-100km/h in around 4.7sec. It’s no slouch in the corners either, thanks to firm but well-judged suspension and predictable dynamics.
- Value. Sure, its $85,990 sticker price mightn’t scream value initially, but consider that the Clubsport performance and dynamic ability trumps that of some Europeans which can cost twice the price, and it suddenly seems like a bargain.
- Interior space and comfort. Like the Commodore on which it’s based, the Clubsport is a brilliant long distance cruiser. The cabin is well appointed, spacious and comfortable, though slightly built types might find the heavily bolstered seats too generous in hard cornering.
- The ride. It mightn’t score the brilliant magnetic dampers of HSV’s flagship GTS, but the Clubsport’s ride is surprisingly comfortable, especially given it rolls on large 20-inch wheels wrapped in low profile rubber.
- That boot. Practicality is always going to be a station wagon’s strong suit and the R8 Clubsport doesn’t disappoint. Even with the 60:40 split fold rear seats upright, there’s a whopping 895 litres of boot space, which is well up on the Clubsport sedan’s 496L.
- The noise. You’d imagine a big, supercharged V8 would sound amazing, but the Clubsport’s exhaust note is slightly disappointing, especially low in the rev range. Things improve above 4200rpm, when flaps in the exhaust open with a metallic snap and the big V8 lets loose with a bellow, yet even here the note isn’t what you’d call beautiful. A Holden VFII SS-V Redline, which costs $30K less, sounds better.
- The cabin might be roomy and wonderfully comfortable, but the quality and tactility of some of the materials (we’re looking at you hard, shiny plastics) betray the HSV’s humble origins and bargain price. At least the switchgear and ergonomics are hard to fault.
- Fuel efficiency. Ok, no one buys a big, heavy V8 and expects it to return stunning fuel numbers, but there’s no hiding the fact that the Clubsport is thirsty. Drive it sedately and it’ll return around 12L, but get too aggressive on the throttle and that number can easily jump north of 16L/100km.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Honestly, no. At this price point, no other car can match the Clubsport Tourer for performance, dynamics and practicality. If you’re willing to spend more, the Mercedes-AMG C63 wagon is even faster, has more equipment and a nicer interior, though it can’t match the HSV for space and is almost twice the price. Audi’s new generation S4 Avant also arrives in late 2016 and will offer similar levels of performance to the Clubsport, though is significantly smaller and doesn’t sound as tough.