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Best of the V8 choices

It seems V8 engines have become a case of horsepower for courses.

We Aussies love our V8s. The history books say it, the Bathurst fans say it, and now there are more than 500 cash-paid deposits for the GTS from Holden Special Vehicles that prove it.

The overwhelming support for the supercharged 6.2-litre Big Dog, and the rest of the HSV pack that's romping to a sellout V8 success of more than 3000 cars in 2013, shows there is still a place for old-school muscle in the modern world.

But not at Nissan, where the all-new, petrol V8-powered Patrol is a disaster. Things are so bad that the geriatric superseded model is continuing alongside the newcomer and still finding plenty of friends.

Nissan dealers have a backlog of unsold 5.6-litre V8 heavyweights and there is a growing backlash from long-term Patrol fans who cannot see the point in the company's new off-road flagship. It's nicely cushy, but it costs anywhere from $82,690 to $114,490 - a sharp jump from $53,890 to $57,390 for the old one - and there is no diesel engine.

It's not just that, as the new Patrol also arrived in Australia more than 18 months late and - because development was focussed on wealthy Middle East buyers with no petrol paranoia - carrying the sort of specification that only works for a very limited number of people who are probably more interested in a Porsche Cayenne or Benz GL.

Nissan has only sold 1600 of the new Y62-series Patrols this year and, to put that into perspective, more than 6000 people have driven away smiling in a new Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series in the same period.

Nissan even resorted to a $1500 petrol voucher for a while to try and get things moving, but that's only 1000 litres - give or take, mostly take - in today's world, and the hulking Patrol can easily guzzle at 25 litres of unleaded for every 100 kilometres under the treads if you're towing something big or crawling off the blacktop.

So it seems V8 engines have become a case of horsepower for courses. They are still fine for HSV fans who want something fun and fast, and also for Mercedes-AMG buyers who want flashy and fast, but not for family-focussed suburban work, or towing and off-roading.

Even the latest Range Rover, the current Carsguide champion in the top-end SUV stakes, is most popular with a turbodiesel V8 despite prices that can balloon to $250,000. So, what makes the difference in the world of V8s? "I think there is a performance market still in Australia, and people want great cars," the head of HSV, Phil Harding, tells Carsguide. "I think there is still a passion in Australia for V8 performance, and sporting saloons that deliver excitement. We're fulfilling a need and a demand."

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Based on 30 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

(base) 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ $25,300 – 33,550 2013 HSV Clubsport 2013 (base) Pricing and Specs
(Dual Fuel) 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ $23,800 – 32,340 2013 HSV Clubsport 2013 (Dual Fuel) Pricing and Specs
R8 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $28,700 – 38,060 2013 HSV Clubsport 2013 R8 Pricing and Specs
R8 (Dual Fuel) 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $25,700 – 34,100 2013 HSV Clubsport 2013 R8 (Dual Fuel) Pricing and Specs
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