What is it?
This is the Holden HSV GTS, an Aussie-built supersaloon with a 423bhp 6.0-litre V8 under the bonnet. And in all but name, it’s the new Vauxhall VXR8.
What’s it like?
It’s the subtleties of this big saloon that I couldn’t quite believe. Not given its size, the punch and the mass of its 423bhp nose-mounted V8, the aggressive styling and the fact that the whole thing has to be built tough enough to cope with some of the world’s worst roads.
Yet in a brief shakedown drive on a selection of lumpy Oxfordshire back-roads the car displayed a delicacy and accuracy in the steering, a flatness and control in its firm ride and a general, impressive stability in tough conditions that would have done credit to one of Europe’s best sports saloons.
Not for nothing does the Holden GTS’s builder, Holden Special Vehicles in Clayton, Victoria, seek comparisons with BMW.
“We reckon it’s as quick as an M5 at half the price,” says Englishman Phil Harding, HSV’s managing director this past six years. He’s not the only Englishman involved, either; since 1987, HSV has been owned by Tom Walkinshaw, formerly of TWR and Arrows F1 fame
The GTS we drove briefly near Tom Walkinshaw’s Oxfordshire HQ wasn’t quite the car we’ll get here in May, but it’s close, especially under the skin.