Make / Model Search

Car reviews - HSV - E Series 2 - range

Our Opinion

We like
Performance, handling and ride, Competition ESC and Launch Mode for the track and licence-saving Extended Cruise Control to get there
Room for improvement
Lack of spare wheel as standard, standard VE issues of thick A-pillars and small side mirrors

22 Sep 2009

PLENTY of ‘Series 2’ cars have represented only a once-over-lightly of the previous model, but the HSV E Series 2 is not one of them.

For a start, it is hard to miss the E Series 2’s new looks. While the E2’s new nose and tail treatment may not satisfy everyone, for the most part it is a well-executed design change that clearly separates the HSV range from Holden’s hot Commodores.

You do not have to be an enthusiast to pick the differences any more, and importantly for HSV, you do not have to be an enthusiast to like them.

Maybe the E Series 2 does not look like an instant Audi S, BMW M or Mercedes Benz AMG alternative, but for about $60k-$80k, not much else provides HSV’s bang for buck.

To reiterate the potency of the HSV range, HSV sent us on a meandering drive through the Yarra Valley – with Winton Raceway as our destination. The easy and slow road loop showed the new model to be a comfortable, lazy cruiser, although the optional 20-inch wheels and performance suspension on the ClubSport R8 felt a little hard when belting down patchy back roads.

Lugging along in sixth gear allowed us to play with the new cruise control. It unobtrusively reigned in speed creep with the smoothness and subtlety of a career diplomat, saving us from the ever-present and pernicious VicPol radars.

When a slow meanderer needed to be dispatched on a long straight, the 6.2-litre LS3 did not need much encouragement to economise on its use of wrong side of the road. The baritone bark of the new bi-model exhaust system made itself known here too, with none of the vibration and droning that seems to constantly dog most customised exhaust systems

While the 6.2-litre V8 will lug along in top gear, rev its heart out or anything you like in between, the six-speed manual does not exactly hold the promise of whip-crack gearchanges at first acquaintance. Yet get to trust it, and ignore its feigned balkiness, and you will not need to wait for long between orders of bulk kilowatts to the rear wheels. The seemingly slow-changing gearbox somehow can be prodded into fairly quick changes.

On the track, the GTS, with its optional six-piston calliper brake set-up and standard Magnetic Ride Control, was clearly a sharper track-day tool than the ClubSport R8 sedan that we also sampled.

The GTS’s power gain is hard to pick, but the optional brake package is fairly obvious for its better bite.

Yet the ClubSport R8 acquitted itself well, with good balance. Of course ‘balance’ is a relative term for a big, heavy car on such a tight track, but the HSVs held tight lines prescribed by someone who would not know a racing line if they fell over it. Ultimately, understeer was a trap.

The ClubSport and GTS both seemed to entreat you to drive more smoothly and pick a better line. The Competition Mode also proved that even a driver whose skill is best described as average can be made to look talented. That is, of course, until the HSV race drivers at the track did hot laps in the cars to show how it was supposed to be done.

Competition Mode is no competition on that front, but tellingly, even the race drivers could achieve better lap times using this mode rather than the standard ESC mode.

The race-track experience not only highlighted the excellent dynamics of the new HSV range but also the persistent VE design flaw of thick A-pillars. We all know that Holden says this offers better crash safety, but it comes at the cost of vision, especially in tight corners.

The bolstered front seats curiously seemed a little flat on first sitting, but laps of the track proved beyond doubt their ability to keep you planted.

We also got to sample launch mode at Winton. The ability to get away cleanly and quickly for sprints or time trials is a bonus. As for road use, perhaps it’s like the low-range transmission in an urban-use four-wheel drive – it will probably will not – or should not - be used by many owners.

A big sedan that looks good and that has the ability to devour big long stretches of Aussie highway at a comfortable lope just as easily as it shaves lap times on the track for half the price of the top-shelf hi-po Euros is a heady mix. The new E Series 2 might be a bit big and boofy for some, but benefits of the refinements in styling, features and engineering in this latest evolution of HSV’s E Series are hard to ignore.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new E Series 2

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here