First, let’s position this car correctly – both as a Vauxhall and an HSV.
Running the same LSA-family Chevrolet ‘small-block’ V8 as the Camaro ZL1 (remapped and fitted with a new air filter compared with the one in the regular VXR8 GTS), the GTS-R has 587bhp on which to struggle by.
And although that’s more than any VXR8 or indeed Vauxhall has ever had before, it does leave the car shy of the headline power output of cars of its ilk from Mercedes-AMG, Audi Sport and BMW M by a clearly present margin, however narrow.
Much as the handful of owners may not care about such things, some may have preferred to see the VXR8 sign off with a more emphatic performance statement. And in Australia, at least, it did. The LS9-engined GTS-R W1, whose 636bhp V8 came from a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, was HSV’s own farewell love letter to the Commodore. Only 300 were built, and unfortunately it never got – or needed – the Vauxhall VXR8 export makeover treatment.
Back to what we did get, then. Although the GTS-R’s V8 makes no more torque than the regular GTS’s, it has an Eaton supercharger blowing at 9psi and bi-modal exhaust system – now with two diagonal exhaust tips rather than four round ones – that has been retuned for a fruitier bellow. Downstream of it, buyers had the same choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission as with the GTS; and a mechanical limited-slip differential for the driven rear axle as standard, as well as brake-based electronic torque vectoring and proper track-intended electronic traction and launch control systems – again, all just as the GTS had.
In the rolling chassis department, though, we find evidence of greater change: retuned suspension springs and Magnetic Ride Control dampers; uprated, 410mm front brake discs and six-piston front calipers; and new 20in forged alloy wheels.
Suspension is otherwise by struts up front and independent multi-links at the rear. Power steering is an electromechanical system, the switch from hydraulic steering having been made for the regular Commodore as part of the 2013-model-year VF-generation revision.
The GTS-R’s exterior identifiers comprise a new front bumper with a wider central air dam, wider front wings and a larger front splitter than the GTS’s, as well as an enlarged rear wing with a carbonfibre section and a more aggressive rear diffuser panel.