HSV GTO & GTS Coupe (December 2001)

GTS Rim HSV believes the GTO and GTS Coupe, based on the Holden Monaro coupe, will turn the high performance luxury market on its head

The Coupes, officially unveiled at HSV’s state of the art new headquarters in Clayton, VIC, will sell for $73,750 and $94,750 respectively. And HSV managing director John Crennan believes it’s the high-end Europeans that should be worried.

"I believe that, if the HSV Coupe was released as is but with BMW badges, the price would be $150,000-plus." He sites BMW’s M3 coupe and M5 sedan, as well as high performance metal from Mercedes-Benz, as potential victims at the altar of HSV’s first ever two-door.

Bold stuff, indeed.

Whether mentioning the HSV Coupe range in the same breath as established supercars from Germany is a clever marketing association, or an honest appraisal of the Coupe’s ability remains to be seen. HSV plans to begin production of the GTO Coupe in January, and the GTS in February, with deliveries starting soon after.

The HSV Coupe bodykit was the work of TWR designer Neil Simpson, long time apprentice to Iam Callum, the man credited with developing HSV’s aggressively elegant VT bodykits. Simpson’s other works include the VU Maloo ute, and the incredible 6.2 litre HRT concept Maloo seen at the 2001 Sydney show.

Simpson believes the Coupe embodies "restrained aggression", developing the beautifully simplistic design of Holden’s Mike Simcoe into a typical HSV head-turner. The front air-dam, side skirts and rear spoiler are all designed to make a statement – der! – and to give the Coupe a ground huggingstance. The overhanging rear spoiler was deliberately kept low to the boot to give the perception of speed even at rest.

There’s every reason to expect the HSV Coupe’s dynamics to live up to the styling promise. Restrained aggression indeed. This is one seriously potent package, from the highly tuned engine and suspension to the to-die for bodykit. Add HSV’s 15 years of expertise, the tie in to HRT and its pool of Australia’s best V8 drivers, and you begin to understand why HSV products are the most lusted after cars in Australia.

But first, the range: HSV will sell two Coupes, badged the HSV GTO Coupe, and the HSV GTS Coupe.

The GTO Coupe is powered by a 5.7 litre LS1 alloy V8 engine tuned for 255kiloWatts, and mated to a four speed automatic or six speed manual transmission. Suspension is Monaro in geometry, which means MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabiliser bar up front, Control Link IRS in the rear, and fettled by HSV and reigning V8 supercar champion Mark Skaife to produce what Skaifey reckons is the "best handling HSV ever".

HSV was able to capitalise on the Monaro’s increased tortional rigidity and reduced rear weight bias to ‘soften off’ the rear suspension without sacrificing the Coupe’s neutral handling characteristic. In turn a quicker steering rack was fitted to speed up steering response and reduce turns lock-to-lock.

High performance 18in tyres dress stylish five spoke alloy wheels, specifically designed to evoke memories of those originally worn by the HK Monaro 327. Other historical touches include badge styling and those trademark slots – or gills – in the side skirts.

The interior of the HSV Coupe is not a place for shy, retiring types. Bright, bold trim colours include Red, Yellow and Tan and are co-ordinated to the exterior colour. Seat backs are finished in high contrast colours with two new textures, one to replicate a race suit, the other a medievil chainmail suit. Yes, you read right.

An 8-speaker, 10-stack CD player is standard in the GTO, as well as climate control air-conditioning, electrically adjustable drivers’ seat with 3 memory settings – in fact, electric everything – and remote central locking with rolling code engine immobiliser.

The GTS Coupe, the flagship of the HSV Coupe range, is truly a beast of a car. The 5.7 litre V8 engine gets all sorts of Callaway sourced goodies to raise power to a dizzying 300kiloWatts, mated only to the Quick Shift six speed manual gearbox. HSV reckons the GTS will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 5.5 seconds, and cover the quarter mile in a blistering 13.3 seconds.

Befitting a car of such stratospheric performance, the GTS gets one of the biggest tyre and brake packages ever seen on an Australian made car. Massive 19in 5-spoke alloy wheels shod with high performance Pirelli P-Zero tyres have the unenviable task of handling the GTS’s prodigious power. And the brakes are equally huge: 373mm cross drilled, grooved discs with six-piston calipers are fitted up front, and 343mm cross drilled, groozed discs with 4-piston calipers are fitted in the rear.

The suspension also gets a boost, biased further towards performance and handling at the expense of a softer, more luxurious ride.

The GTS is externally distinguished from the GTO by the contrasting colour accents on the front and rear bumpers and side skirts. A low-key roof spoiler sits atop the rear windscreen, and Bosch parking proximity sensors are fitted to the rear bumper.

The GTS gets its own unique instrument cluster surround, along with a shift light and buzzer, alloy-like steering wheel and stainless steel pedals.


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