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HSV beefs up Grange

New face: HSV's Grange gets high-tech goodies such as a blind-spot warning system and race-style data monitoring in its latest upgrade.

Top-shelf V8 and new toys set to lift Holden Special Vehicles luxury flagship

6 Sep 2010

HOLDEN Special Vehicles’ luxury Grange will get the high-output 325kW version of HSV’s 6.2-litre LS3 V8 engine in the ‘WM3’ upgrade of its Caprice-based long-wheelbase flagship.

The engine can be ordered in either petrol or – for the first time in an Australian-built production car – dual-fuel liquid propane injection (LPI) variants that HSV says produce identical performance.

The latest Grange, which is based on Holden’s recently launched Series II Caprice, has also been loaded with a bunch of toys for drivers who want everything in the toyshop, including a touch-screen ‘enhanced driver interface’ (EDI) that can deliver race-like data such as G forces and track lap times.

Co-developed with MOTEC – the same company that supplies V8 Supercar race ECUs and data loggers – the unit also helps the driver to control some of the new extras on the car, such as the bi-modal exhaust, rear-view camera, sat-nav and European-style Bosch blind-spot warning system, a first for an Australian-built car.

20 center imageLeft: HSV Grange. Below: HSV's Enhanced Driver Interface.

To go on sale towards the end of September along with HSV’s new short-wheelbase E3 range, which is yet to be unveiled, the updated Grange is expected to retain a sub-$90,000 price, with perhaps a slight increase over the current $87,990 sticker.

HSV’s Grange announcement today marks the start of a staggered launch for its new models in the wake of Holden’s VE Series II debut last week ahead of its October on-sale date.

The Grange will be the only car in the HSV range to get a power boost, shifting up from the 317kW version of the Corvette-sourced LS3 V8 that it shared with the ClubSport, Senator and Maloo to the 325kW variant that was previously exclusive to the performance-leading GTS.

The GTS is expected to retain the 325kW unit in the E3 upgrade, even though rival Ford Performance Vehicles has upped the ante with its new 335kW locally-developed ‘Miami’ supercharged 5.0-litre V8 based on Ford’s American-made Coyote.

The revised Grange gets a redesigned nose and tail, gaining the daytime running lights that were introduced on the short-wheelbase models at the ‘E2’ update.

But the biggest changes are evident in the cabin and under the bonnet, with HSV looking to lift the Grange’s appeal as Australia’s premium performance luxury car.

HSV managing director Phil Harding said the changes suited the character of the car.

“The Grange buyer traditionally wants the most luxurious and technologically advanced Australian-made car there is,” he said.

“The Grange has always fitted that description well, but the new styling, increased power and extra technology makes WM3 a compelling proposition for a luxury car buyer who is passionate about driving.”

The optional dual-fuel LPI system – developed in league with Orbital Engineering, which is also working on an LPI system for Ford Australia – was heralded for the HSV range back in December 2008.

Unlike traditional LPG (liquid petroleum gas) systems beloved of Australian taxi operators, LPI involves injecting the fuel in liquid form into the inlet port rather than as a gas vapour.

HSV claims the system can cut CO2 emissions by up to 15 per cent, without loss of power or torque compared with the petrol-only system. No fuel economy figures were quoted.

HSV says liquid injection provides cooler combustion and better fuel metering.

Engineering manager Joel Stoddart said the critical challenge was to make it work seamlessly across both petrol and LPG, without loss of performance.

“The good news from our perspective is that, when we have put people in a development car, they thought they were driving a normal HSV car,” he said.

The engine starts on petrol, uses LPI in the low-to-mid rev range, but switches to petrol when full power is required, all the way to the red line.

Depending on load and RPM, the changeover point between LPI and petrol is about 5300rpm.

HSV began its LPI development program when the price of oil spiked in 2008, fearing a buyer backlash against big V8 petrol cars if the high prices continued.

Mr Harding said LPI overcame the traditional LPG compromise of reduced running costs and lower emissions at the expense of peak performance.

“From the very beginning, we committed that we would not compromise on engine performance,” said Mr Harding. “LPI overcomes this problem.”

The LPI system will be a $5990 option on Grange, although buyers can qualify for a $2000 government rebate.

The main addition to the Grange’s interior appointments is the new EDI touch-screen driver interface that allows the driver to skip through a number of models and controls, some useful and some bordering on frivolous.

The system even allows the driver to record “oversteer and understeer events”, record lap times using GPS technology – with some tracks such as Bathurst’s Mount Panorama already pre-loaded – and display esoteric information such as manifold pressure and intake air temperature.

If you want, you can download all the data for analysis on a laptop, pretending to be Garth Tander’s race engineer.

The driver can also be a bit naughty by turning off the bi-modal exhaust control to open a valve in the exhaust for extra aural pleasure, or turn off the new blind-spot warning system that alerts the driver when objects are deemed too close to the side of the car.

HSV designed the graphics for the system in-house, with the emphasis on intuitive use.

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