AS New Car Test - Holden HSV GTO Coupe

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The Monaro that Holden should have built.

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    By Julian Edgar
    25 June, 2002

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    When we drove Holden's Monaro CV8, there were four specific aspects we didn't like. Firstly, the suspension on less than smooth roads was harsh and had apparently insufficient travel (allowing bottoming-out); the induction noise was an ugly bellowing roar; the car didn't seem to go very hard considering its engine size and thirst; and the steering had been made too slow.

    Well, Holden Special Vehicles must have been thinking along the same lines, because in their car every one of those criticisms has been addressed.

    The GTO Coupe is a much better car than the Holden Monaro, although we can't help but thinking that you really shouldn't have to pay all of those extra dollars to get a car that is only a bit more competent than the standard one should be...

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    But what's this about the 'Coupe', anyway? Well, a Monaro that you buy from HSV isn't a Monaro; it's a Coupe. The Coupe is available in two forms, the GTO (as tested here) which is the Clubsport equivalent (255kW); and the GTS, which has the 300kW Callaway engine. The GTO that we had came optioned with the HSV cross-drilled premium brake package and was fitted with the four-speed auto. That makes it the first Gen III engined car that we have experienced with the self-shifter - all of the others have been equipped with the heavy six-speed.

    And let's start with the transmission. The 5.7-litre V8 Holden and HSV products have come in at times for a criticism for their lack of bottom-end torque. To be honest, some of us around here see that more as a reflection on the power curves of V8s in the past rather than a genuine criticism of the current engine - there's still plenty of mumbo at low revs, but not the gut-wrenching, wheel-spinning wall of torque that was always experienced in big V8 engines of olde times.

    But either way, despite the fact that the auto gets by with two less ratios, the use of the Turbo Hydra-Matic 4L60-E is no bad thing. In fact, we'd go as far as to say in real traffic, the car is probably faster than a 255 equipped with the manual trans.

    Why? Well, the kickdown response of the auto - especially when in Power mode - is very good, and with the torque multiplication of what feels like a reasonably high stall converter, tromping on the loud pedal normally sees you slingshot your way down the road. In the same situation in the 6-speed car, by the time you've found second gear and started accelerating, the auto trans car would be gone. While not as sophisticated as many autos finding their way into current cars, the HSV-specific auto trans mapping modifications do a good job in suiting the trans to its more sporting roles. It's no Lexus or Audi 5-speed, but by the same token, the transmission is not a major shortcoming of the car.

    The auto trans cars are all matched to a 3.07:1 final drive, rather than the 3.73 of the manual 255 (or the 3.91 of the 300kW cars). This taller diff ratio makes for a more relaxed cruising rpm, without having the downside of giving poorer throttle response. Instead, the trans just downchanges.

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    So while at first you might think that the enthusiast driver would prefer the six-speed over the self-shifter, in practice the auto works very well. Further, with the sort of launches that you would do in your own car (as opposed to a let's-see-how-low-we-can-get-this-number magazine style launch), to 100 km/h the auto is about as quick as the manual, anyway.

    The aural accompaniment of that performance is also much sweeter in the GTO Coupe than the Monaro. Sounding exactly like the R8 Clubsport, the GTO has a great exhaust note when the hammer's down, but quietens itself to a whisper in cruise. The gasping induction roar of the Monaro (provided by a dedicated open-mouthed duct stuck into the standard airbox) is thankfully gone, a side benefit of the cold air intake of the HSV cars.

    But what about the Coupe's ride and handling? Unfortunately we were not able to drive the two-door HSV over the same demanding roads that we had the CV8 Monaro on, so a direct apple-to-apple comparison is not available. However, it was still obvious that HSV's Coupe rode with far more assurance than the unsettled CV8. Over bad surfaces it was HSV firm-and-compliant, something that we've come to expect after the R8 and SV300. Staffer Michael Knowling placed the ride quality as about midway between the R8 and the firmer SV300, while I thought it was about lineball with the Clubsport. No matter - the ride is certainly no bad thing, and is far better than is achieved in the off-the-shelf Holden model.

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    And the handling? We asked top Targa Tassie top placegetter Craig Dean to drive the car, and his comments were interesting. He immediately switched off the traction control and proceeded to test the GTO's in extremis handling along a narrow and treacherous piece of rural blacktop.

    "It understeers too much," he suggested. "Through that corner there when I got onto the throttle it just pushed, rather than going neutral. It's almost as if the compliance of the ride - which I'd rate at 8/10 - is a bit too soft to start with then firms up too much. I think that if you softened that rate at the front a little - or lowered that end 10mm - it would be much better."

    He added, "But I like this car. Although I would only rate the handling 6/10 - it's sure no Supra," said the man who beats Jim Richards in his four-wheel drive Porsche on some Tasmania stages while steering a near standard twin turbo Supra.

    From our perspective, the GTO handles with the same level of assurance as the R8 Clubsport and SV300 that we have previously sampled - lots of grip and progressive understeer, with power oversteer quelled by the slightly erratic and harsh traction control system. For those who still doubt it, the current crop of HSVs are cars which are highly competent in their ride and handling. Big, sure - in fact big enough that even a relatively pedestrian small car is likely to be able to run away and hide on a narrow, twisting road - but still very tidy handlers indeed.

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    And the steering? We hated the 13 per cent slower ratio that Holden have chosen to saddle their Monaros with, and so when we learnt that HSV had picked a unique ratio for their Coupes, it was a relief. And in practice the steering, while still feeling a little slower than the sedans, is better than the Holden models.

    While we don't want to damn the GTO with faint praise, surely many of these characteristics - the steering, the suspension, and the intake noise - are aspects which cost nothing more to get right in the normal Holden model?

    Move inside the GTO and you'll find an environment and equipment level that is much better than any other HSV model - even than the much more expensive SV300. The GTO is based on the Monaro (duh!), which in turn is based on the Calais. However, the Clubsport and SV300 are based on the Berlina trim level - so the GTO ends up with twin climate control, electric memory seats, and all the other accoutrements of the highly equipped Monaro. Certainly - and as we said of the CV8 - the cabin works well, with plenty of space front and back (perhaps rear headroom excepted), and the interior a practical and comfortable area.

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    The as-tested GTO Coupe costs $76,350 (that figure includes the must-have huge brakes), compared with the CV8's auto's $56,990. So is the GTO worth an extra 34 per cent? Well, yes it is - but that really shouldn't be the case. The normal CV8 Holden model should have better ride comfort, it should have better NVH. It should even go a bit harder than it actually does.

    The GTO is a good buy, but more because of the deficiencies in the Holden model rather than the benefits of the HSV iteration. But, as things stand, yes, the GTO is a wonderful and unique car - fast, safe, easy to drive with good ride and handling, and having a real on-road presence.

    We wouldn't want to own a CV8 Monaro - but a GTO would find a place in our garage, no question.


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    Grunting the HSV GTO Coupe - A really amazing power gain.

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    By Julian Edgar
    15 October, 2002

    For literally years we have warned against re-mapping naturally aspirated cars that are otherwise standard. Sure, it can be done, but an adequate gain for the dollars we have never seen. Mechanically modify the car - exhaust, intake, perhaps even cams - and without a doubt there will be improvements to be had out of the standard management system. Mapped real-time on the dyno and the results will be there. But not on standard engines - why would the manufacturer have left that power untapped?

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    But that philosophy may no longer apply, not with the Holden/Chev LS1 engine as fitted to the Australian cars, anyway. Why? Well we recently watched a dead standard Holden Special Vehicles GTO coupe (a 255kW Monaro by any other name) get re-mapped real-time at ChipTorque in Queensland. And the dyno results were nothing less than magnificent - a power gain right through the rev range from 2600 rpm to the redline, peak power lifted by 8 per cent, and over the last 1000 rpm, gains as great as 25 per cent!

    And having watched all the hard yards, we might add that it was obviously no easy task - this wasn't a case of whacking in a pre-designed set of maps and then doing some minor tweaking to get it maxing. No, it was more a long hard real-time struggle to get those kW happening.

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    With around 6000 kays on the clock, the GTO was simply a well run-in standard car. Apart from looking brilliant in (exterior and interior) yellow, there was nothing to make it different to any other 255kW HSV version of the Monaro. As we covered in our test of the GTO ["New Car Test - HSV GTO Coupe"], the HSV version of the two door differs significantly in its driving outcome from the Holden car, however from an engine perspective all is identical to any other 255kW HSV. For example, the GTO doesn't get the roar-inducing Monaro airbox intake; it uses the same subtle sounding intake to the airbox as other HSV cars.

    So just because it's a two-door there's no reason why it should have any more power than any other HSV 255. However, with a dyno'd 184kW at the wheels it was a lot stronger than the last HSV 250-255 we saw on these rollers. In fact, that particular engine was the previous model's 250kW version, but it made only 168kW at the rollers. Using the normal 30 per cent driveline loss (in reality, lots of the loss is actually caused by the tyres on the rollers and other factors), that would make this GTO engine good for 262kW at the flywheel - from an engine rated at 255! Give up? It certainly can be hard trying to draw any relationship between rear wheel and flywheel figures; best to just say that on this dyno on this day this car had a rear wheel peak of 184kW.

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    Once the baseline had been established - complete with a nasty trailing-off in power over 5000 rpm - it was time to start the re-mapping. ChipTorque's Lachlan Riddel downloaded his 'best guess' program, one that reduces the severity of the ignition timing knock retard, takes out some of the high-intake-air temp fuel enrichment, and puts in a little more ignition timing. This is the mix of factors which in the past has shown good, safe results on this engine - but not this time. Dyno run Number Two placed a line on the screen which had exactly the same peak power - and was within a few kilowatts elsewhere as well.

    Not good.

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    Fly the Coupe - A sexy HSV GTO to eclipse the mighty 300kW GTS...

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    Words By Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar
    26 November, 2002

    The HSV GTS Coupe would have to be the most desirable piece of Aussie muscle you could possibly buy. That's a view shared by Simon X of Melbourne, but - like many - he found the $100k-odd asking price a bit steep. Still, after owning a VT Series 2 Clubsport and then a soulless 325Ci BMW, Simon felt the pressing need to jump into some kind of Holden or HSV 2-door. You know how it is - you can't stick with any one car for too long...

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    Despite doing the risky thing and taking the ultra seductive GTS Coupe for a test drive, Simon simply couldn't justify rustling up the necessary 100 large. The next best thing, however - the HSV GTO - provided much of the appeal for some 20 grand less. The most noticeable areas where it lacked compared to the GTS were rim size and power - 19-inch versus 18-inch and 300kW versus 255kW. Still, Simon figured some of that 20 grand saving could then be invested bringing the GTO up to - and then beyond - the performance and appeal of that too goddam expensive GTS...

    Simon says the stock-standard GTO - bought with the 6-speed manual gearbox - is a pretty good handler with a great driving feel. Still - after having F1 Performance perform some mods on his ol' Clubsport - it wasn't long before he fronted there again with some cash in hand...

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    The first round of modifications called for a pair of 4>1 Pacemaker extractors (which are now wrapped in thermal lag), high-flow cat converters and a 2 1/2-inch mandrel twin exhaust with a so-called X-pipe - all of which is designed by F1 Performance. On the intake side of the equation, the HSV cold air induction system was ditched and the airbox was F1 modified for more airflow, plus a drop-in K&N filter was inserted. Things then progressed to include a modified airflow meter (the mesh screens were ripped out), the throttle body was opened out to 78mm and a fat 4-inch pipe replaced the standard induction pipe adjoining the two.

    One of the biggest power limitations of the non-C4B LS1 is the standard camshaft; from all accounts, it really struggles to edge up to the 300kW barrier (not without forced induction anyway!). The F1 Performance team saw to the GTO's gasps for air by fitting a fairly aggressive in-house developed cam (delivering around 570 thou total lift and 224 degrees duration at 50 thou) teamed with Crane 1.8 ratio roller rockers and custom valve springs. The 2-valve-per-cylinder alloy heads were also attacked fairly extensively with the die grinder to ensure the new cam could perform to its fullest potential.

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    GTO With N2O - A killer HSV GTO packed with mechanical mods - including nitrous!

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    Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar
    3 February, 2004

    What is it about a tuned V8 that's so irresistible? Is it the ground-shaking grunt? The glorious bellow? Maybe it's the sheer power. Whatever it is, Nicholas of Melbourne is completely hooked and there's no way you'd force him into the seat of something like a WRX. This is Nicholas' second HSV and his second modified LS1 - he previously owned a VT Series 2 LS1 with a bunch of bolt-on muscle. "Before I got the GTO about 15 months ago I was intending to buy a Clubsport R8," says Nicholas. "I decided not to get the R8 because I really wanted leather and I knew the two-door body is a lot more rigid than the sedan. It's the one to choose if you want to build it up."

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    Five-point-seven litres of bent-eight grunt, a 6-speed 'box and all the HSV fruit would be enough to keep most buyers content - but not Nicholas. "Of course, it was down on the performance of my modified VT but it was very smooth and driveable. I was pretty stoked with it," he says. Not that Nicholas had much time to build an appreciation for the standard output...

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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the HSV GTO Coupe on Top Gear. Stig also took it around the track.
     
  3. dmora

    dmora Guest

    I took this pictar. :o
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  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I really like the HSV rear decklid spoiler, I might have to get one. :o
     
  5. fridexter

    fridexter Active Member

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    Still looks like ass. :x
     
  6. fallenbox

    fallenbox Guest

    :werd:

    I like the monaro's front end better than pontiac's :o
     
  7. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The HSV kits all look very ricey to me.
     
  8. this alone makes me want to move to austrailia :o

    [​IMG] :x:
     
  9. fallenbox

    fallenbox Guest

    Yeah but the frontend of the gto looks like a grandprix/grandam/anyotherpontiac :o
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The entire car looks like that wherever it's sold.
     
  11. fallenbox

    fallenbox Guest

  12. MiseryIndex

    MiseryIndex i never know why. i only know who. Moderator

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    don't blink.
    thats just pure sex.
     
  13. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Autocross fascia > all the rest.

    I don't know if I'll spend all the money to do anything besides change the spoiler though.
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    You KNOW you want one. :bowdown:
     
  15. fallenbox

    fallenbox Guest

    :werd: Don't go wasting your money on all that shit, I was just saying I thought that that front end looked cleaner. You ARE getting the blue, right? That blue is pure sex.
     
  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I can't really decide... I like dark blue, black, and metallic purple.

    I've written Pontiac and requested they offer it in Fusion Orange next year with black leather (among other things). That would be my color choice no second thoughts.
     
  17. fallenbox

    fallenbox Guest

    If not, you could always get a paintjob :o
     
  18. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    [​IMG]

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    I want one in this color with matching gauges, wheel and shifter stitching, and black leather goddammit. :mad:
     
  19. §2k

    §2k New Member

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    hsv gts is quicker
     
  20. AsianRage

    AsianRage Know about Media Ventures?

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    HOLY CARP :wackit:
     

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