Characterful Aussie super-estate makes a great offbeat M5 rival

What is it?

You know the Vauxhall VXR8? In its domestic Australian market it’s called the HSV Clubsport R8, and this is the estate version: the HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer.

HSV is Holden Special Vehicles, and is to Holden (GM’s Australian arm) what Alpina is to BMW.

HSV is an independent operation that tunes ordinary Holdens, but gets access to cars during development. It gets cars fresh from the production line prior to giving them the HSV treatment.

This includes some unique bodywork, new wheels, brakes, exhausts and suspension tuning.

The mechanical make-up of the HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer is similar to the VXR8 we get in the UK; a rear-drive chassis powered by a 6.2-litre V8 with 425bhp.

Usually, Holden’s estate is based on a long-wheelbase version of the saloon (the Commodore). This time, however, Holden wanted a European feel to the wagon, so the Tourer is more or less the same size as the VXR8 saloon.

What’s it like?

It’s better than the VXR8. Because the development work was done after the saloon, the chassis tweaks are a tad more sophisticated; think of it as VXR8 version 1.1.

The Clubsport R8 Tourer’s springs and dampers are stiffer than the saloon’s because it’s meant to be able to carry a heavier load in its well-designed, spacious load bay.

The extra carrying capacity hasn’t ruined the ride, though. The HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer is a nicely composed car with tight body control. It’s not quite as sophisticated in feel as, say, a Mercedes C63 AMG or BMW M5 Touring, but the R8 Tourer’s a lot cheaper. It’s fast and very well balanced too.

Should I buy one?

It would be nice if you could buy one. As with most fast estate cars, the Clubsport R8 Tourer is easily as appealing as the VXR8 saloon, but Vauxhall isn’t interested in taking it officially in the UK (lest it should tread on the toes of a GM Europe model).

It’s possible to import an R8 Tourer personally though. If you did, you would have one of the most charismatic fast estates around.

Matt Prior

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Nicko22 27 December 2008

Re: Holden Commodore HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer

Hi there. Well, time for me to eat a large slice of humble pie. I do apologise for that, as you are, of course, correct. You must excuse the ignorance, as the impression the local motoring media gives is of an operation highly integrated into Holden these days.

There were also reports that Holden bought out both the HRT teams and HSV at the end of last year to stop Mark Skaife going bankrupt, which may have fuelled my inaccurate belief. Not that any of this is a subsitute for checking facts properly.Hope this clears things up.



Nicko22 23 December 2008

Re: Holden Commodore HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer

Autocar wrote:
HSV is Holden Special Vehicles, and is to Holden (GM’s Australian arm) what Alpina is to BMW.

No it's not. It's like AMG is to Mercedes. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holden now (though it was in the past operated by TWR) and the nice PR flacks at HSV should have told you that. (If not, a phone call to check facts before publishing might have helped).

This sort of crap gets journos a bad rep.

TegTypeR 23 December 2008

Re: Holden Commodore HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer

If they've stiffened it this should improve the car massively. Be nice to see the revisions carried across to the VXR8 Saloon.