...and made some changes for the better with its range up date for 2009.

The first HSV wagon since the Avalanche will be $1000 above its R8 sedan equivalent at $65,990 and available with the new six-speed manual or a re-calibrated six-speed automatic, which ups the pricetag ante to $68,320.

Explore the 2009 HSV Clubsport Range

The recalibrated auto and new Tremec TR6060 manual transmission are part of the MY9.5 HSV model upgrade, which also includes some engine recalibration.

As is de-rigeur for the HSV models, there's a bit of a bodykit - focussed mainly on the nose and side skirts - with the rear remaining largely similar to the Sportwagon.

Unlike the sedan variants, HSV has left the rear lights alone, something that would have cost $1.5 million to alter and the company is taking a measured approach to this wagon.

The company will get just over 160 built but the orders already stretch well into the first quarter of 2009 - even HSV boss Phil Harding wants one, but he's waiting patiently for sales to be fulfilled first.

The interior gets upgraded seats (full leather trimmed versions are $2490), a new rear seat, dual-zone climate control and also adopts the new white-faced instruments and centre-pod of gauges, which will go range-wide for 2009.

The Tourer is also fitted standard with a reversing camera and rear park assist and gets a shorter final drive ratio.

It sits on 19in wheels with 245/40 front and 275/35 rear rubber as standard, but can be optioned up to a 20in wheel with slightly lower profile tyres for $2500.

The R8 Tourer is 20 per cent firmer in its suspension but has a reduced rear roll bar diameter.

HSV chief engineer Joel Stoddart said the aim was to leave the wagon driver with the same wheel-time experience as that of a sedan.

"One of our main objectives when we decided to embark on this car was that the driver should lose nothing in the driving experience in this car over and above the sedan," he says.

The suspension tune differs a little bit from its sedan sibling as the HSV engineers have tweaked a few things during the development - it's about 20 per cent stiffer all round, with the same rear dampers as the Maloo utility and a smaller-diameter rear anti-roll bar than the Clubsport R8.

Driving

On the launch drive through the hills north-east of Melbourne, the first R8 Tourer sampled had the 20in wheel option, which gives the handsome wagon a more aggressive look.

The company was working from a more-than-competent base with the Sportwagon and the suspension tweaks - with either wheel package bolted on - has only enhanced the drive experience.

The tighter tune keeps the body under control but rolling (and oversteer) from the rear takes a lot more provocation before it becomes evident.

For the driver, the addition of a new six-speed manual to the range almost overshadowed any other changes - while HSV says it's not a massive change from the old gearbox, the new six-speed is quicker and sharper to change, with better defined gates and a cleaner action.

The six-speed auto also benefits from recalibration and the benefits are most felt in sport mode.

It's not a hyper-aggressive alter-ego and seems to have a little more in the way of smarts on the way into corners under brakes.

The addition of the camera makes parking and manoeuvring quite a bit easier - given the whopper D-pillars it probably should have been there from the get-go at Holden.

For those shopping for load-luggers and/or kid carriers but not interest in SUVs, HSV has plenty to offer.

In terms of performance wagons, they are few and far between that could match the R8 Tourer for pace, let alone on price - Audi has its $270,000 RS6, Benz has the $146,000 C63 and $239,000 E63 wagons.

The R8 Tourer seems to have the versatility of a wagon and the performance and driving manners of a home-grown hotrod sedan.