HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer (2008) Review

By: David Morley

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2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer 2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer 2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer
2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer 2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer 2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer
2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer 2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer 2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer

HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer. And you thought station wagons were boring...

HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer (2008) Review
2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer

 

2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer

A station wagon version of a HSV? You've got to be kidding, right? Er, no.

In fact, not only is the R8 Tourer a proper, fully fledged HSV, it's also, depending on how you look at it, potentially the best thing the Clayton operation does right now.

The magic of it all lies in the fact that the Commodore Sportswagon - on which the R8 Tourer is based, of course - is a whole new ball game in itself. While previous Commodore wagons have been long-wheelbase cars with, um, utilitarian styling, the Sportswagon rewrites things with the same wheelbase as the Holden sedan and, frankly, catwalk looks.

Compared with the old Commodore wagon, the shorter bodyshell of the R8 has reduced interior space a little. And the luggage area is a bit of a victim to the Tourer's own sense of style thanks to that tapered roofline. But it's still big enough for five adults and a consenting dog or two and creature comforts abound, especially if you spend the little extra and go for the all leather interior.

The shorter wheelbase means the wagon is as chuckable as a HSV sedan since it also uses more or less exactly the same suspension. Throw in the optional 20-inch wheels and tyres and you have a brat-hauler that turns in like a sports car and actually talks to you through the steering wheel and seats.

HSV has cleverly decided to give the Tourer the full-enchilada driveline, too. So, you get the 6.2-litre engine complete with 317kW of good-old Chevy grunt and, in the case of our test car, the six-speed manual gearbox. No detuned, crumble-crutch nonsense here.

To be honest, the thing would be better off with the six-speed automatic since it'd better suit the urban lifestyle most of them will wind up supporting. That and the fact that the manual's shift is a clunky, heavy old thing that many owners will tire of before the first service.

But whichever gearbox you opt for, the R8 Tourer is a seriously fast station wagon; doubtless one of the fastest you can buy anywhere. Our test car romped from rest to 100km/h in just on five-and-a-half seconds and a standing 400m time comfortably in the 13-second bracket.

And fuel economy? Well, driven carefully on the freeway, the big fella can beat the magic 10 litres per 100km mark. True, consumption around town will be heavier, but the average SUV or four-wheel-drive will still guzzle more than the HSV, yet won't have a fraction of the performance or handling.

Which is what makes us think that the R8 Tourer is perhaps the brightest light in the HSV catalogue right now. It represents a real alternative to other lifestyle vehicles and it just happens to look a million bucks.

Speaking of dollars, you're looking at a tick under $71,000 with the auto and leather or $66K as you see it here on these pages. Not cheap exactly, but there are much more expensive family cars and definitely pricier muscle cars around. And in the R8 Tourer, you're getting a fair chunk of both for the one admission price.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

2008 HSV ClubSport R8 Tourer

 

BODY: four-door wagon

WEIGHT: 1914kg

ENGINE: 6.2-litre V8

POWER/TORQUE: 317kW/550Nm

TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual/auto

DRIVETRAIN: front eng, RWD

PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h: 5.5sec

PRICE: $65,990 (man)

 

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