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HSV Grange 2010 Review

For once, more power isn't part of the latest update to HSV's range.  The E3/WM3 models instead pick up exterior and interior refinements, headed by a sophisticated infotainment package and an optional LPG injection system that cuts fuel use without any affect on performance.

It's good on the regular Holdens and so much fun it's dangerous on the HSV variants. Why dangerous? Because the temptation to look down at the centre console display - HSV calls it an Enhanced Driver Interface - to see how many G's you're pulling is almost overwhelming - and that means taking your eyes off the road.

Take my advice - plug in the USB stick and review the data on a computer after the drive.  The EDI can be either a track day toy or a useful way to smooth out your driving style, depending on which mode is dialled up.

In the case of the WM3 Grange, it is another weapon in the Clayton-based company's challenge to the performance European sedans that it is competing with for space in the reserved sections of corporate carparks.

Value

It's hard to argue with an $89,000 vehicle that will keep up with a Merc E63 or BMW's M5 in most situations, has much more interior space and still costs half as much. By any comparison, it's a lot of car for the price with interior space that puts its Euro rivals to shame, performance that's on a par and mod-cons that are often options in many luxury car line-ups.

That said, it's still a lot of money for what visibly began life as a Holden Commodore, no matter how many dress-up kits or flashy fascia HSV tacks on. Still, go to Europe and you'll see E-Class Mercs and 5 Series BMWs being used as taxis ...

Technology

Local engineering has gone a long way to overcoming what is an old-fashioned lump of V8 under the hood. The 325kW and 550Nm is more than drivers will ever need on the road. Adding to the image is the latest LPG injection sytem, without the gas.

The natural fuel is injected into the cylinders in liquid form. HSV calls it Liquid Propane Injection; owners who tick the option will call it a bragging point. There's no discernible loss of power - and big fuel savings - as the LPI provides the go up to 5300 revs, after which the premium unleaded petrol takes over.

Toss in a blind spot alert sytem, self-levelling xenon headlights, a bi-modal exhaust system that is refined or raucous depending on pedal pressure and a magnetic ride control suspension kit that, depending on the mode, noticeably changes the vehicle's attitude around corners and over bumps and the Grange starts to look like a smart package indeed.

Design

The Grange is visually the most refined of the HSV range and a definite improvement over the previous model. The front end is either overtly masculine or a a touch too much boy racer depending on who you're talking to The daytime running lights help soften the effect and from side or rear-on it looks more luxurious than "look-at-me".

HSV's chief of design and styling is, not surprisingly, a fan.  "We have made the Grange a more dynamic looking car, and the update delivers greater on-road presence, he says.

"It definitely still retains the classy appearance and proportions that you expect from a luxury performance car; however, we have added a few more masculine-looking details like the DRLs and the shockwave inspired exhaust tips."

Little touches, like the recesses for the screens mounted in the back of the front seats, help avoid problems with sun glare and ensure the rear seat passengers are quiet.

Safety

The driver-aid acronyms - ABS with EBA and BFD, ESC and STC - are all standard kit on the Grange, as they are on most cars these days. The difference is in the calibration, with the HSV allowing a bit of leeway before the electronics intervene. It's enough to be fun without getting into trouble.

The self-levelling xenon headlights cast a massive spread of light even at 110km/h and the four-piston brakes aren't likely to fade this side of a racetrack.

Driving

It isn't hard to find a comfortable driving position in the long-wheelbase HSV and the leather-trimmed seats do a reasonable job of holding you in place as the pace pick up. They're more suited to larger drivers, though, which again shouldn't be a problem in this market segment - it's nothing another couple of business lunches won't fix.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel helps here, too, but the sporty styled wheel isn't matched with a quick enough rack, meaning drivers can't turn through a 90-degree corner without shuffling their hands. That kind of defeats the purpose.

A reversing camera with overlaid guide lines complements the standard parking sensors and makes manoeuvring the big car a relative breeze, but it's on the open road where the Grange justifies its existence.

Overtaking is simply a press of the pedal away, no matter what the speed and switching the suspension from luxury to sports mode gives you confidence to tackle the most chopped-up roads. It's not going to outrun or outhandle a Porsche, but try fitting five people into a 911.

The satnav is easy to use and alerts the driver to nearby rail crossings, speed camers and school crossings which is an intelligent features other carmakers should copy.

The only criticism comes when getting into the car of a night _ unlike its Euro rivals the auto headlights don't activiate when the car is unlocked.

Verdict

A worthy local contender in the luxury performance market that can only be rivalled by the FPV in the value-for-money stakes. 8/10

HSV Grange

PRICE: $88.900
ENGINE:  6.2-litre LS3 V8
POWER: 325kW at 6000 revs
TORQUE: 550Nm at 4600 revs
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
BODY: Four door sedan
SEATS: Five
DIMENSIONS: Length 5203mm, width 1899mm, height 1469mm,  wheelbase 3009mm, tracks front/rear 1592mm/1590mm
STEERING: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
SUSPENSION: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear FUEL TANK: 73 litres FUEL TYPE: Premium unleaded FUEL USE: 14.0litres/100km (tested)
CO2 EMISSIONS: 328g/km
WEIGHT: 1883kg
SPARE TYRE: Inflator kit.
BRAKES: Ventilated 365mm four-piston front discs, ventilated 350mm four-piston rears
WHEELS: 19-inch alloys
TYRES: 245/40 front 275/35 rear
SAFETY GEAR: ABS with brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist, electronic stability control and traction control, self-levelling xenon headlights

Pricing Guides

$29,260
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$25,080
Highest Price
$33,440

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $25,080 – 31,020 2010 HSV Grange 2010 (base) Pricing and Specs
(Dual Fuel) 6.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $27,720 – 33,440 2010 HSV Grange 2010 (Dual Fuel) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$25,080

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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