It appears having a bit of Grange in your life can lead to all sorts of difficulties.
A bottle of the smashed grape variety caused a whole lot of trouble for ex-NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, and having tried HSV’s latest luxo offering, we can confirm exercising the automotive version to its full extent also risks attracting the attention of the authorities.
This is largely thanks to HSV’s decision to give its long-wheelbase limo the full-house 340kW/570Nm version of the familiar LS3 6.2-litre V8. While a Grange fitted with the 430kW/740Nm LSA donk from the GTS makes for a tantalising prospect, few will find much to complain about with the way the Grange goes in a straight line. With the bi-modal exhaust set to ‘stun’ it makes a terrific noise while doing so, too.
On wet roads, this amount of grunt means little provocation is required to have the rear-end waving around like a tree in the breeze in any of the first three gears. In a car 5.2 metres long, this is initially a little unnerving, particularly as HSV adopts a pretty lenient ESP intervention policy. But, provided you have plenty of real estate around you when the rear does step out, the three-metre wheelbase gives you plenty of time to gather things up.
On gnarled Aussie backroads, the Grange’s sporting focus means it lacks some of the suppleness of the Holden Caprice on which it’s based, but with the two-stage dampers set to soft the ride is taut yet comfortable.
The Clayton crew have also beefed up the steering weight considerably, low-speed parking needing a level of muscle not often required in modern cars.
Inside, all of the new toys introduced as part of the Gen-F upgrade – self park, blind-spot assist, head-up display and more – are present and welcome. In fact, the Grange usually exists on a separate life cycle to the rest of the HSV range, but such was the level of improvement for this update that it was launched simultaneously with the rest of the Gen-F range this time around.
As with most of these ‘sporting limos’, the Grange is a curious car, lacking the relaxed vibe of Holden’s stretched offerings yet hampered by its size dynamically. Objectively, unless you really need the extra rear legroom, it’s hard to see what it offers over the shorter, more agile Senator, which can be had for $2K less and has the added allure of a manual gearbox option.
However, we suspect the small number of people that buy the Grange don’t consider anything else. If it were our cash, we’d stretch another $7K for the extra performance and poise of Australia’s current muscle car king, the HSV GTS.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Engine: 6162cc V8, OHV, 16v
Power: 340kW @ 6100rpm
Torque: 570Nm @ 4650rpm
0-100km/h: 5.2sec (estimate)