The thirst of the big V8 fails to shock Damo, as he is welcomed warmly to the tribe at a Holden day.
IT’S clear that the Clubsport R8 is not just a fast and glorified taxi. It’s a hero car for bogans, a thin slice of the performance car wedge. It’s part of a cult, a religion, an addiction, where emotion and wallets meet, with emotion usually winning.
We’re at the annual All Holden Day in Dandenong, and we feel a little out of place in our brand-spankers and completely stock R8. Yet all the 400 cars here – chrome-bumpered sedans, panel vans and utes, large and small alike, fours, sixes and eights, turbo and supercharged – have one thing in common; they wear the Lion emblem on their bonnets and in their owners’ hearts.
And so the Clubbie R8 is welcomed into the tribe with open arms, the faithful admiring the six-piston AP Racing stoppers that perform so well pulling up its 1782kg mass, the Anthracite 20-inch wheels that still don’t scupper the ride, and the optional rear wing that hampers rear vision, especially at night.
Owning a car with a Lion badge on its nose immediately breaks the ice. But despite the common thinking, it’s a broad church. Take the blokes from the SS club, who reckon you don’t need to spend the extra $35K that our Holden Clubsport R8 costs over an SS. Or the blokes who prefer chrome bumpers and shun fuel injection in favour of a painstakingly tuned four-barrel Rochester. Whether you’re in a standard FB Holden, a rebuilt VL Turbo or the latest hardware from HSV, however, the kinship remains.
The R8 has booked us into the club, yet at a price. Its fuel economy is admirable for a 6.2-litre V8 – a best of 701km from the 71-litre tank is as good as the R8 gets, achieved on an interstate run – but around town you’re looking at close to 16L/100km. You need to keep it in Sport mode because Touring mutes the bi-modal exhaust too much and Performance doesn’t feel much different on the street. You can feel its weight around corners, but those front seats hold you as firmly as the Continental rubber grips the road, even in the wet.
The R8 is extremely easy to drive and behaves itself in the city, even around corners that in my late teens had my V8-engined VH Commodore’s tail as switchable as an MP after an opinion poll.
The All Holden Day was quite a big deal, as is the R8. I can’t say it’s the car for all occasions, but so far it is the occasion.
It’s white, but a whitegood it ain’t.
Spare a thought
IT HAPPENED in my last long-termer, and now it’s happened in the Clubbie – twice. A rear tyre started deflating as I left Ford’s HQ (perhaps Graeme Whickman spotted me) and the pressure monitors chimed on my way back to the office. In the boot was a can of goo, which worked, until days later a screw lodged itself in the same bloody tyre! Now there was no goo, or even a wheelbrace to remove the alloy and get it fixed. HSV has since fitted a 20-inch spare and toolkit snugly in the spare wheel well.
Read part 1 of our HSV Clubsport long-term car review.
HSV CLUBSPORT R8
Price as tested: $79,365
Part 2: 2309km @ 9.6L/100km
Overall: 3129km @ 11.1L/100km
Date acquired: March 2015