$82,990 – $90,980
Good: Great exterior styling; Improved interior; EDI system; Class leading ride and handling; Exhaust note to die for.
Not so Good: The LPI system reduces the boot space and it is noticeably more expensive than Club Sport R8; No longer the most powerful Aussie muscle car.
Design and Engineering
Good : In September 2009, three years after HSV released the all new GTS E Series, the radically face-lifted E Series 2 went on sale across Australia.
The twin-nostril bonnet a la Pontiac G8 and a new nose job which has an official name of ‘Shockwave Graphic’ attract attention from all motoring fans.
HSV engineers also focused on improvements to the handling. We say ‘job well done’. The E Series 3 arrived in October 2010 and the most noticeable change to the exterior is the new, flatter rear spoiler, fitted primarily to aid rear visibility.
Not so good : The GTS Sedan is certainly a victim of love it or hate it styling, but we reckon this is the right way to go as a 6.2L V8 is never going to be politically correct in this day and age. We’re not so sure if the new rear bumper styling works as well as the changes up front and one of our reviewers thinks the flash new daytime running lights (which Audi owners may recognise) are a little too ‘razzle & dazzle’.
Interior and Styling
Good : Double stitched leather seats offer class leading levels of support and comfort. We love that the HSV lion and helmet logo is embedded into the headrests and every car receives a machined stainless steel plaque on the centre console with the individual build number proudly on show.
The new Oracle pentagonal shaped instrument surrounds is just one of the revamped interior’s highlights; design and equipment have certainly taken a spring forward over the E Series 2. An impressive new touch-screen for the new Enhanced Driver Interface (EDI) system as well as the satellite navigation and audio controls now sits higher on the dash, so it’s safer to the eye than previously. Piano-black trim, lashings of chrome and the strip of brush aluminium helps lifts the ambience up a notch. As before, the traditional HSV instrument binnacle sits above the centre console.
The changes occurred in October 2010 (E Series 3) and the most impressive of the lot is HSV’s new Enhanced Driver Interface (EDI) that provides the owner with access to performance data such as lap times and g-forces similar to a V8 supercar as well as adjustments to certain vehicle functions. Our favourite is the bi-modal exhaust setting, so on the move the driver can adjust the noise level. Track drivers will salivate at the extensive amount of data recorded by the vehicles system sensors, and it can all be downloaded onto your laptop via a USB port in the glove box. And of course a number of racetracks such as Mount Panorama come pre installed!
As with all Commodore origin HSV’s, the GTS comfortably sits five adults.
Rear ¾ visibility is no longer an issue thanks to the optional blind-spot alert system which flashes a red LED light (positioned inside at the bottom of each windscreen pillar) warning if a vehicle is detected.
Not so good : There is little to complain about with the HSV GTS Sedan, but the Commodore derived cheap-looking and uncomfortable hand brake remains, and the sat nav graphics are by no means industry leading.
The optional LPI system’s gas tank is located in the boot behind the seats, so it reduces boot space by 165 litres and the split fold rear bench is no longer usable.
Good : The late 2009 facelift saw a lift in power from 317kW to 325kW for the big 6.2L V8 and a very healthy 550Nm of torque remains. The GTS sounds utterly fantastic. Intense, exciting, and wild. Thanks in part must go to the bimodal exhaust, when you need to be politically correct a simple change through the EDI system will take the sound down from brutal to mellow but tough, like a pre-politician Arnie at the beach and then in a tuxedo. Importantly, it sounds great inside not just from the outside and this engine is just so tractable and responsive. Unlike a supercharged or turbo charged engine the power output on offer is beautifully linear and progressive.
Under the bonnet the big E Series 3 change is the optional petrol-LPG LPI system. It brings about a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions but likely to be of more significance to most buyers is the fact that LPG is far less expensive than petrol, savings of roughly 50 per cent in fuel costs can be expected.
Typically, the system starts on petrol then switches to LPG when the engine warms up for fuel economy savings. Whilst HSV state that the GTS produces the same power on either fuel type, whenever the tacho goes past 4000 revs it switches back to petrol power for optimum power.
Not so good : The optional LPI system adds roughly 100kg to the GTS’ already non lightweight 1800kg kerb weight, but we sure couldn’t notice a negative difference to the ‘standard’ car’s awesome performance. GTS can’t match the supercharged power of the competing FPV GT for brutal oomph (but for sound the GTS wins hands down).
Ride and Handling
Good : Traction is very impressive when you put the power down whilst coming out of a corner. And the front end feel is very, very good. The steering turns in quickly, and settles nicely and the ride is excellent, filtering out unwanted road imperfections. Conclusively the handling and ride are cohesive and communicative offering a brilliant balance between oomph, traction and handling!
Not so good : Potholes and larger bumps filter through a little more than desired especially if you’ve got the MRC set to Track mode.
Buying and Owning
Good : Ticks the safety box with standard anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC) and six airbags; as with the Commodore, the GTS is awarded a top crash rating in independent crash testing. You should sleep easier at night knowing that from the September 2009 facelift, all GTS’ feature an improved version of the DataDot anti-theft identification called DataDotDNA Platinum as standard. Another useful new feature is ‘Extended Cruise Control’ – it could even help you keep your license – the system applies gentle braking pressure when it senses that a set speed is being exceeded by 1-2km/h.
Reverse camera with rear park assist, satellite-navigation and – like the Holden Commodore VE Series II on which the HSV models are based – touch-screen audio system are also now standard fare. Whilst the optional LPI system will set you back about $6k, if you do above average km’s it’s well worth a look as your fuel bill will drop significantly. Six piston brake pillars and 20inch alloys are a tempting option at under $5k.
Not so good : If you opt for the LPI system boot space is significantly reduced, however we could live with the reduced space. If you don’t opt for gas, real world fuel economy is all too often higher than the official stated combined figure.