Blow(er) me. Walkinshaw has just launched supercharged versions of the HSV and SS Commodore VF models and the results are gobsmacking.

The breathed-on HSV Clubsport R8 now cranks out 497kW and a supercar-rivalling 955Nm, while the SS kicks off with 457kW/780Nm. That's more grunt than a herd of swine and reaffirms Walkinshaw's spot as the peak player in the performance aftermarket stakes.

VALUE

It costs $18,990 to upgrade. With the 6.0-litre SS costing from $41,990 and the 6.2-litre Clubsport R8 $71,290, the upgrades come to $60,980 and $90,280 respectively. You could buy a compact car for that but it adds power that's equal to the output of a mid-sized vehicle. We're talking 50 per cent increases in power, along with 400Nm of torque in the HSV model. The upgrades are primarily mechanical.

TECHNOLOGY

The supercharger is an Eaton twin vortices 2300 series blower backed by high-flow fuel injectors, custom intercooler and a cold-air intake setup. The exhaust is tweaked to maximise airflow and the results are stunning. The drivetrain is also backed by Walkinshaw for the balance of the donor vehicle's new-car warranty.

DESIGN

VF models fitted with the very capable MyLink infotainment system finally bring the Commodore into the 21st century. The HSV adds gauges for battery voltage and oil pressure to the base of the centre console, as well as EDI performance telemetry that displays lateral and forces and comes with a Race function. The HSV seats shame the SS model for looks and grip but you'd expect that given the price difference.

SAFETY

The VF Commodore performs well in ANCAP crash testing and rates 35.06/37. The local crash-testing body notes: "In the frontal offset crash test driver chest and leg protection was acceptable. Passenger leg protection was also acceptable. All other injury results were good in this test and in the side impact test."
Enough said, in ANCAP's customarily cautious way of putting such findings.

DRIVING

The HSV-derived Walkinshaw feels tauter in every area - brakes, seat support and steering - than the regular SS. It translates into more confidence on the limit and greater levels of adhesion before the back end starts to step out. Given the Walkinshaw updates, it will step out very quickly if you're unwary. A heartbeat before it delivers the power, the R8 bellows like an elephant undergoing an enema. It then surges down the road with the momentum of a tsunami and doesn't look like stopping as the speedo fires toward the 260km/h limit.

Carsguide is guessing at a 4.0-second split from rest to 100km/h but a decent driver on a racetrack may even be able to trim that into high threes. It is plough-the-scenery quick. The SS isn't far off and in bang-for-your-buck terms represents the better value. The accelerator isn't quite as twitchy and it feels slightly lighter over the front wheels. The noise from the exhausts isn't as likely to earn the wrath of the neighbours either.

Both are eminently driveable as daily cars, which was a key focus of the Walkinshaw upgrade. Peak power is good for pub bragging rights but not much use if the thing is choking off the line or attempting to go up the rear end of the car ahead as soon as the accelerator is tickled. Needless to say, the Walkinshaw treatment works.

VERDICT

This side of an HSV GTS there isn't a locally built car that will come close on the drag strip or through the twisties. What the Walkinshaws and Commodores in general concede in cornering pace is obliterated when the steering lock winds off and the supercharger winds up.

Walkinshaw W457 and W497 packages
Price: from $18,990 (on top of the donor car)
Warranty: Balance of 3 year/100,000km factory coverage
Capped price servicing: No
Service interval: 9 months/15,000km
Resale: N/A
Safety: 5 stars
Engine: 6.0-litre V8 supercharged, 457kW/780Nm; 6.2-litre V8 supercharged, 497kW/955Nm
Transmission: 6-speed man, 6-speed auto; RWD