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HSV GTSR W1: Performance Car of the Year 2018 5th Place

By David Morley, 24 Feb 2018 Performance COTY

The ultimate example of Aussie engineering is a fitting swansong

HSV GTSR W1 Performance Car of the Year 2018 test drive feature

If hardcore had a part number, it’d be found in the workshop manual for the GTSR W1.

Add huge brakes, a dry-sumped engine and the sort of suspension that is normally found under a Supercar and you have yourself something that should come with a XXX rating and ‘adults only’ sticker. When you get your jaw back up off the floor, the actual driving part of the W1 is damn impressive, too.

8 Facts on the GTSR W1

It has a lump to the idle that kind of gives the game away, but even then, nothing really prepares you for the onslaught that those 6.2 supercharged litres provide. The extra grunt over the basic GTSR is all stacked pretty high up, though, so you do need to reach for it.

That said, it spins up so readily and eagerly, that you’re never waiting too long. That’s especially true with the modified gearset fitted to the W1 and, with a taller first three gears and a shorter last three, the shifter keeps you busy when you’re tracking it. The clutch pedal is a man-sized proposition, too, and although the shift itself is pretty sharp, this is still a car you have to deliberately drive.

But 474kW is 474kW, so ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what you meter out, the W1 will always be ready and waiting to explode into action. It would be nice to tell you that this, possibly the most collectible car in local car-making history, is also the best car ever made here.

The truth is not quite so extravagant. The R-Spec tyres, for instance, will be a liability in some circumstances. The close ratio gearing means the W1 is busier at a freeway cruise than a standard-issue GTS. And the suspension is getting up there for being as stiff as the set-up in a Supercar heading for a street circuit – so the ride isn’t great.

You might initially think it’s okay, but familiarity – and typical roads – soon breed contempt. It’s quite possibly the noisiest back seat in the game, too. If carting a family is on the agenda, forget the W1.

It’s probably a moot point, anyway, since most W1s are destined to live a pampered, trickle-charged, security-garaged existence. Irony being what it is, the fastest HSV ever is also the one that is least likely to ever be driven.

Follow the Performance Car of the Year 2018

But here’s another thing worth remembering: HSV didn’t have to go in as boots and all as it did with the W1. A car with a few special bits, a fancy sticker job and the distinction of being the last of the legendary line would have created a stir big enough to empty dealerships pronto. But HSV didn’t do that.

Instead, it dug deep and gave us the W1, ensuring that the whole thing went out with a bang, not a whimper. And for that, we must be thankful.

Body: 4-door, 5-seat sedan
Drive: rear-wheel 
Engine: 6162cc V8, OHV, 16v, supercharger
Bore/Stroke: 103.1 x 92.0mm
Compression ratio: 9.1:1
Power: 474kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 815Nm @ 3900rpm
Power/Weight: 250kW/tonne
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1895kg
Suspension: struts, A-arms, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: 410mm ventilated/drilled discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 372mm ventilated/drilled discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 20.0 x 9.0-inch (f); 20.0 x 10.0-inch (r)
Tyres Sizes: 265/35 R20 (f); 295/30 R20 (r)
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R
Price: $169,990

0-100km/h: 4.16sec (6th) 
0-400m: 12.18sec @ 195.68km/h (6th)


Morley – 5th
I feel privileged to have given a W1 a good thrashing at PCOTY. Most won’t be so lucky.

Campbell – 5th
Epic engine feels naturally aspirated. I just want one. 

Newman – 4th
A loveable monster – works on road, awesome on track. Goodbye big fella.

Robson – 3rd
A fine rear-driver and the best VF ever… but it’s not the best car here.

Reynolds – =4th
Excellent brakes, heaps of grip, but not as much power as I thought there’d be.


  Campbell Morley Newman Reynolds Robson Total
Performance 9.5 7 9 8 9 42.5
Dynamics 8 6 9 8 8 39
Accessibility 8.5 8 7.5 8 7 39
Liveability 4 5 6.5 7 7 29.5
Value 6 6 5 7 8 32
X-Factor 10 9 9 9 8 45
Total 46 41 46 47 47 227