It’s a limited-run V8-powered Australian sports sedan than makes HSV ownership suddenly more affordable than it’s been since the company launched its VFII update late last year. The engine lacks a supercharger but, as a package, this car is hugely persuasive.
- The engine. Reworking the LS3 V8 to produce 340kW - a healthy 36kW more than the Holden Commodore VFII SS - makes the Clubsport R8 SV Black feel ultra-lively and eager on the road. Torque remains at 570Nm, same as the SS, and this is ample for sedate cruising, while still allowing great flexibility and easy overtaking ability without needing to work the engine hard.
- It sounds brilliant. Accelerate hard from low revs and there’s a rich burbling induction note that grows in volume as engine speed rises. Further up in the rev range there’s a distinctive “choof” sound as the HSV exhaust valve opens up, unleashing a fast-paced and angry V8 exhaust note. We think it sounds better than any supercharged LSA HSV, and may just be the best-sounding V8 Commodore on sale today.
- It handles superbly for a large sedan. Its suspension tune is firmer than that of the Commodore SS, meaning the HSV Black sits a bit flatter in hard cornering, and allows the front end to grip a bit harder, thanks also to wider front rubber (255mm front tyres versus the SS’s 245s, and sticky Continental ContiSportContact 5 Ps versus the more cost-focused Bridgestone Potenza RE050As on the SS).
- The brakes, supplied by AP Racing, are outstanding, with great pedal feel, and a strong, reassuring bite to haul the car down hard from high speed with great authority.
- The greedy V8 thirst when driven hard.
- Wide tyres and very firm suspension can make around-town ride a bit thumpy and restless.
- Some plastics and trim feel either cheap or less than premium.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD CONSIDER
The Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint comes closest on size, engine, performance and price. It manual form it’s priced around $6k cheaper than the Holden, yet its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 does out-perform the Clubsport R8 SV Black’s engine (albeit by a tiny margin.) However, it’s widely accepted that the HSV is a more cohesive, more thoroughly developed vehicle; faster on a track and better to drive on the road.