The Best Of The Last From HSV.

Holden Special Vehicles have provided some pretty special cars in their relatively short history. The latest, and the best, of what will be the last Australian made based cars is the HSV GTSR recently undertook a thorough test to find out what would be Australia’s Best Driver’s Car (ABDC) with a comparison of twelve performance oriented vehicles ranging in price from $40000 to $250000. These vehicles included entries from Ford, Porsche, BMW, Fiat, and, of course, HSV. The testing was held in Tasmania over five days with close to twenty thousand kilometres of exhaustive and rigourous evaluative driving undertaken. The testing for the ABDC goes back twelve months, with a look at the cars released over the past year and making a list from those. The aim? To find out which car made the driver feel they were in the country’s top driver’s car. Andrea Matthews, a writer for and a judge in the ABDC, said: ” “I love this award – it’s the one week of the year we get to ask ‘which car makes you feel most alive?'”

What was important to the testing process was the fact that all of the cars included are vehicles available from the showroom. Cars such as the Volkswagen Golf GTi ($46990) through to the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe 4MATIC ($105,615) were rated as was the BMW M3 Competition ($144,900). To ensure that the judging covered as broad a range of driving environments as possible, apart from the Tasmanian roads, the cars were driven at Baskerville Raceway. The drivers themselves included Mike Sinclair, the editor in chief; Marton Pettendy, the managing editor and a contributor to Wheels magazine; Tim Britten, a long time motoring journalist, and race drivers Greg Crick (two time co-winner of Targa Tasmania) and Luke Youlden.The question is simple: what makes for a good, enjoyable, driver’s car? Driveability is obviously important, as is performance, but the most important part of that equation is how it makes the DRIVER feel. They may be quick on a racetrack but will fizz in the hands of the driver. In essence, is it something that makes you wish to drive it over and over again?

At the end of the week, and after all drivers, 12 in total, had spent time with all combatants, it was the HSV GTSR W1 that came out on top. HSV’s engineering director, Joel Stoddart, said: ““This car was built to be driven and built to be appreciated by drivers.” The car has a 474 kilowatt supercharged V8 engine, rides on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres and Australian developed Supashock suspension, and gets hauled down by race proven AP racing brakes. There’s a premium to be paid for all of this grunt and safety, with $169990 the numbers you’ll need to buy one.

Planning for the car goes back nearly three years, when Holden announced that they, along with Ford and Toyota, would cease local manufacturing. In order to ensure that HSV would sign off in the best fashion, Stoddart says: “It had to be a unique, ultimate car. I put in the presentation [to HSV management for project approval] it had to be the ultimate Australian-made drivers car.”

ABDC judge Greg Crick says of the HSV GTSR W1: “This car is so good it belies its weight and power. (It)Feels like a smaller, lighter car. Every time I drove this car I was more impressed, chassis superb in all conditions.” But that doesn’t give a full picture of what went into engineering the vehicle to be as good as it came out to be. In order to meet EURO V emissions, specially designed headers were fitted, the Tremec six speed manual transmission was fitted with a new input shaft to deal with the huge 815 Nm torque output, and the LS9 engine required a specific serpentine belt due to an unneeded power steering pump. A largerintercooler and radiator package was fitted (which dropped temperatures by as much as sixty degrees), an improved brake master cylinder was fitted and even the front track was widened to improve handling and fit under the widened guards. All of this is mated to the Australian designed, engineered, and built Zeta chassis.The final word on this must go to Marton Pettendy: “Acres of fun. Who said a big muscle car can’t be a driver’s car – and one of the best.”

The 2017 HSV GTSR W1. Winner of’s Australia’s Best Driver’s Car.

(Content courtesy of Red Agency and

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