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HSV massive model change

The aggressive double-scoop bonnet originally designed to cut through traffic in the USA has been transplanted to the second-generation VE models from HSV, pointing directly to a stonking 325kW V8 engine in the front-line GTS.

It is part of a massive $500,000 model change that is almost the reverse of the low-key change for the regular VE Commodore, which has zero body changes but lots of engineering upgrades. HSV has also done a lot of tweaking, but designer Julian Quincey has gone wild with a range of changes and a lot more body jewellery to turn heads.

Every E Series 2 manual also comes with full-on, race-style 'launch control' and there are a range of other technical upgrades across the line-up that runs from a competition mode on the stability control to 19-inch E2 alloy wheels on the ClubSport and beyond.

But it's the bonnet that cuts through for E2 and HSV chief Phil Harding is happy to defend the donation from the Pontiac program. "We call it our performance bonnet. It's an HSV bonnet now," Harding says. "Actually, we asked for this opportunity over a year ago and at that stage no-one knew the fate of the G8 or Pontiac. We wanted Julian to have it for the facelift.

"We like the look of it. We think that makes our car look horny, or sporty, or whatever word you want to use."

It helps give a tougher look to the E2 line-up but Harding, an engineer, is more focussed on the mechanical changes for the latest HSV line-up. "When we launched E Series we called that our $1 billion baby. This E2 is our half-billion baby. This is the biggest facelift we've ever done," Harding says. "We spent a huge amount on E Series and our sales went up 25 per cent in the first year. That approach worked and we decided to let the engineers loose to entice our customers three years later. "I'm guessing the appearance changes are around 20 per cent of the total bill. The rest is in technology and that stuff is going down pretty well."

He targets the 325kW version of the LS3 V8 and the launch control system as the highlights for 2009. "Why do 325? Because we can, and because our customers want it. And they will probably tell us that it still isn't enough. "But, in parallel, we've done the responsible thing and worked on fuel economy. Every E Series II is more efficient than a VY II manual Clubsport, which had 5.7 litres and was 100kg lighter."

The extra kiloWatts in the GTS have come from a re-calibration and a new lower-loss exhaust system, which points to a trickle-down to other models in future. Not that Harding is saying anything. "As for launch control, I think this is a kinder way of treating the clutch. It's a repeatable thing and easy to use. And we're putting the 7-litre clutch into the manual models."

Apart from the model-by-model tweaking, the E2 models are also available with a new line-up of SV Enhanced options. They vary by model by generally include larger wheels, different exhausts and some cosmetic upgrades.

The latest HSV cars hit showrooms this month but Harding is not making any big predictions because of the economic situation. "We'll more than double our daily output with this range. We'll still be down at the end of the year and I'm not sure how it will go. The market needs a kick," Harding says. "We have starved the market. I wanted the cleanest changeover and it's been the most successful since I've been here. At the moment we're trying to make one fewer car than is necessary, unlike the years when we've made one too many."

The 2009 lineup from Holden Special Vehicles has more visual differentiation than before and a bunch of technical changes. This is the basics, model-by-model:

ClubSport R8 - from $65,990:
Visual upgrade, 317kW V8, manual launch control, new seat trim, 4- piston brakes, 19" alloys
Maloo R8 - from $62,990:
Clubsport package, front-side-curtain airbags, 8" subwoofers
R8 Tourer - from $66,990:
Clubsport package
GTS - from $80,990:
325kW engine, extended launch control, 20" alloys, performance leather seats
Senator Signature - from $82,990:
Manual launch control, extended cruise control
WM Grange - from $87,990:
Extended cruise control, competition mode ESP, new 19" alloys


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