HSV’s tighter and tauter Clubsport special edition is limited to just 156 units (150 for Australia, 6 for New Zealand), and is meant to be the most track focussed HSV yet. But does it hit the mark?
- The bigger brakes on the Track Edition are excellent. Plucked from the flagship GTS model, the big six-piston AP Racing units stop the car swiftly, but are very progressive. There’s an absence of grabbiness that allows you to drive smoothly and easily in city traffic, but pushing the pedal further unlocks substantial stopping power that pulls the big sedan up without breaking a sweat.
- The suspension on the Track Edition has been tweaked, with a stiffer set-up meaning there is less bodyroll in the corners. The car holds the road fantastically, and can be pushed easily. There is good feedback through the steering wheel, making the Track Edition confidence-inspiring under pressure.
- Although the Track Edition misses out on the supercharged LSA engine, the less powerful LS3 is still a fantastic unit. Producing 340kW and 570Nm, the 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 propels the Track Edition to 100km/h from standstill in less than 5 seconds. HSV chose the LS3 for its more linear and responsive nature, which is fantastic for attacking curves with confidence. Oh, and don’t think losing the supercharger has hurt the sound. The Track Edition still makes a glorious note from its bi-modal exhaust.
- The cabin of the Track Edition is a good place to spend time on the road. The alacantra wheel is a great touch, and imparts a sportier feel to the rest of the cabin. Leather electrically adjustable seats are comfy, but hold you well during hard cornering. Passengers aren’t neglected either, with plenty of room across the back seat and the top-notch sound system.
- A heads-up display makes highway travelling stress free, and means you can cover longer distances without becoming tired. Bonus: it makes keeping an eye on your corner entry speeds a hell of a lot easier when out on a racetrack.
- The whole Track Edition treatment feels a bit half cooked. It is a good idea, and one I hope HSV does more of in its import-only future. However, it feels like some opportunities were left on the table. If you want a track-focussed car, maybe there could have been more serious aero, or weight reduction, or proper bucket seats. It’s certainly a happier track day whip than a regular HSV Clubsport R8, but is it enough to deserve the ‘Track Edition’ badges? Maybe not.
- The ride in the Track Edition, although fantastic when on smooth bitumen, becomes arduous on roads that aren’t as smooth as James Bond sipping a Martini. Those inside the cabin are jostled constantly. But comfort isn’t really what this car is built for is it?
- The Track Edition is also very subtle. There are no badges to give away its limited production run other than on the door sills and below the gear shifter. Blacked-out badges and a lack of LSA badge are the only external indication that you are driving a special edition HSV. This may be a positive for some, but it makes the car hard to distinguish from a regular R8 Clubbie.
- The infotainment system in the car is good when working, but is difficult to operate and inconsistent. Connecting an iPhone by Bluetooth requires jumping through numerous menus, and the car will not connect automatically upon startup even if your phone has been linked previously. It was impossible to delete previously paired phones on our test vehicle, limiting the number of phones that could be connected.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The standard Clubsport R8 needs to be considered. It lacks the stiffer suspension and bigger brakes, but packs more punch with its supercharged LSA V8. You could also consider the similarly-quick BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 – but only if you’ve got the extra coin to pursue them.