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HSV E3 2010 Review

HSV boss Phil Harding says the E3 is "more than just a facelift".

THE homegrown V8 power war has been ceded to FPV.  Instead of increasing power for the new HSV E Series 3, the performance car company has chosen to fit a range of hi-tech electronic gadgetry to its E3 models, offer dual gas/petrol power, increase the price by up to $1000 and give it a facelift.

So the HSV range stays with the 317kW/550Nm 6.2-litre V8 (GTS and Grange are 325kW), while FPV will this week release its new range with a 335kW/570Nm five-litre Coyote V8.  HSV boss Phil Harding says that while there is no increase in power and torque, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are marginally down.

"We didn't have increased power and torque on our list of actions for this model year update," Harding says.  Engineering general manager Joel Stoddart admits the 6.2-litre V8 engine is "getting close to its maximum potential".  There is no talk yet of moving to the coming compact global GM V8.

PRICING AND DRIVETRAIN

Prices have increased by $1000 on all but the Senator which is up $560. HSV justifies the price rise on the increased technology and inclusion of standard satnav and reversing camera.

The E3 range also includes a 20th anniversary Maloo ute model which is limited to 100 vehicles. It costs $67,600 in manual which is $3000 more than the standard model and $69,600 for the auto.

TECHNOLOGY

HSV boss Phil Harding says the E3 is "more than just a facelift", pointing out three "firsts" for an Australian manufacturer.  They are an automatic liquid propane injection (LPi) system, side blind zone alert system (SBZA) and an enhanced driver interface (EDI) which is like a computer game for the performance car.

"There are more ideas generated internally than we can afford to make business decisions on," Harding says.  "We're never short of ideas on sales, product, marketing and manufacturing to make our business more efficient and exciting."

HSV is proud of its LPi system that automatically and seamlessly switches between gas and petrol, even though they only expect about 5 per cent take-up. It is offered as a $5990 option ($6390 on Maloo) on all but the ClubSport R8 Tourer.

Stoddart says it has the same performance as in petrol-only mode, although it does switch seamlessly back to petrol when the car operates above 4000rpm.

The EDI is an elaborate graphic system displayed on Holden's new touch screen that provides a wealth of information from G forces to "race" information such as brake and throttle percentages and a stopwatch.

The information system was developed in conjunction with race technology company MoTec and details can be downloaded on a USB stick and analysed on a laptop just as a race engineer would in Formula One or V8 Supercars.

The Windows-based software can also work with the GPS satnav system to record lap times on major Australian racetracks which are loaded into the vehicle, or plot new tracks.

SAFETY

The $1990 optional blind spot warning system is similar to the one developed by Volvo. When selected it shows a blue light on the side of the dashboard which turns red when the ultrasonic sensors detect a vehicle in the blind spot. If the driver indicates and moves into that occupied spot, it flashes.

There is no audible alarm. The system can be turned off and it defaults to how it was left when the car was last used.

To overcome continued adverse comments about the dangerous lack of rear vision caused by the rear spoiler, all HSVs now come with a reverse camera with rear parking assist sensors and a lower spoiler.

STYLING

Inside are new trims colours and materials, more leather, restyled instruments and gauges, and a HSV welcome and build number displayed when the touch screen is switched on.

Outside, there is more chrome, a "superflow" rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tips integrated into the rear bodywork like in the Honda Civic Type R, a new fascia and, for the first time, the Grange gets an engine power designation badge on the boot to mark the increase in power to match the GTS.

DRIVING

With no mechanical changes to the new models, driving dynamics are the same. But even though HSV engineers say there are no changes, the clutch felt a little lighter in the manual models.

HSV's clever LPi system is seamless. The EDI will display when it is in petrol or gas mode, but you wouldn't feel any difference. Ride is firm but fair on the road, although the rear can be noisy over sharp hits.  Magnetic ride which is standard on the Grange, Senator and GTS has a "luxury" damper setting which takes the sting out of the bumps.

The cars felt more at home in a short session at Broadford motorcycle race track north of Melbourne. Here the magnetic ride was switched to "performance"and the cars flowed through the tricky set of corners.

Switch the traction control to "competitive" mode and you can play hero, allowing the back to drift out, but not far enough to cause alarm. Traction control can also be turned off totally.

The extra width in the front tyres of the Grange give it more directional stability and turn-in, allowing quick change of direction on the Broadford esses.

VERDICT

The addition of the EDI and data logging is a gimmick that some will find enticing, while the satnav is past its due date and should justify some of the price rise.  But it is unlikely that the data gimmick will be a key selling point for buyers of Senator and Grange.

HSV E3

Prices:

ClubSport R8 $67,600 (manual) $69,600 (auto)
ClubSport R8 Tourer $68,600 (m) $70,600 (a)
Grange $88,900 (a)
GTS $82,900 (m) $84,900 (a)
Maloo R8 $64,600 (m) $66,600 (a)
20 years of Maloo R8 $67,600 (m) $69,600 (a)
Senator Signature $83,990 (m/a)

Engine: 6.2-litre V8
Power: 317kW (325kW GTS, Grange) @ 6000rpm
Torque: 550Nm @ 4600rpm
Transmissions: 6-speed manual and auto (Grange auto only)
Options:SBZA $1990 (standard on Grange and Maloo 20th); LPi $5990 (ute $6390); Turismo Rosso leather $1490 (GTS and Senator)

Pricing Guides

$35,495
Based on 8 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$26,990
Highest Price
$38,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Signature 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $26,990 – 45,960 2010 HSV Senator 2010 Signature Pricing and Specs
Signature (Dual Fuel) 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $28,820 – 34,760 2010 HSV Senator 2010 Signature (Dual Fuel) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$32,990

Lowest price, based on 17 car listings in the last 6 months

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