HSV Coupe 2005 Review
It's the uncontrollable nature of the beast – and proof positive that somewhere in the Holden/HSV hierarchy is a powerful set of self-assured XX genes able to look at a 297kW badge and not desperately want to squeeze another 3kW from somewhere.
That "magic" 300 figure isn't something that seems to concern HSV – particularly now that the Z-series of cars has the thumping 6.0-litre LS2 borrowed from the iconic Corvette.
Certainly, the GTO's street cred doesn't appear to suffer from the shortfall. With its twin bonnet scoops, long, low Monaro lines and rather startling Turismo blue colour, the test car turned heads wherever it went.
It's a big car with a big heart but surprisingly small luggage capacity.
Built to carry four – in two sets of extremely comfortable bucket seats – you'd need to warn your travelling companions to pack lightly and use small bags.
Boot space appears to have been traded off to accommodate the full dual-exhaust system, which pops twin pipes out from under either side of the rear skirt.
The effect is certainly dramatic, even if the rumble is a little more subdued than most new owners would expect – or want – from a six-litre banger.
HSV has done little with the tweaking of the engine donated from the 'Vette and there's no question that the 297kW (OK, you can claim 305kW DIN if you really want but it's not going to show up on the badging) and 530Nm outputs are starting points. There's plenty of room for future "specials".
Still, in its present state the package is a very civilised one.
The big surprise of the test was that over some 500km of city and highway driving, the LS2 and its four-speed automatic partner returned a civil 14.4L/100km average.
The style of driving was very much as an owner would – a lot of steady-as-she-goes, with the occasional enthusiastic moment when circumstances warranted.
Steering has a light feel, with the rack somewhat faster than in the donor car. The GTO turns in nicely on its 19-inch rubber and, with traction control off, the rear breaks away progressively when prodded.
Great lumps of the engine's torque arrive fairly early in proceedings, peaking at the mid-4000rpm range. The effect is a good launch feel, the ability to squeak the rear rubber changing up to second, and strong acceleration through to something close to the 6500rpm redline.
While the exterior of the GTO has been well worked, with an effective package of skirts, scoops and wings that manages to avoid the garish, for an $80,000-odd car, the interior remains only so-so.
The dash, instrument display and trim is still Commodore.
Drilled aluminium pedals add a bit of flash, the seats are truly good, with plenty of adjustment, support and bolstering, and the six-stacker CD sound system is adequate without being outstanding.
While the seats have a good range of adjustment – eight-way for the driver – with three memory positions, it's disappointing that they don't automatically return to position after allowing rear-passenger access. The seats run forward when the seat-back locking catch is released but don't return when the seat-back is returned to upright.
Range and Specs
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data