HSV GTS – the jewel in the crown

Published: 27 February 2004

Pictured: HSV.

This year sees the legendary GTS badge celebrate its 36th birthday. In the annals of HSV’s own history the GTS model has always represented the pinnacle of the company’s specialist performance vehicle craft.

Ever since the first HSV GTS scorched the tarmac the model has been revered for its aggressive, extroverted character and for being a leader in the early application of serious performance technology. More than ever, all these attributes can be found in the latest iterations of this modern classic – the HSV Y Series 2 GTS sedan and Coupé.

For serious driving enthusiasts – let’s face it that’s prime GTS territory – the substantial advances in the model’s dynamic ride and handling package are headline news. They’ve been achieved by teaming exotic race car inspired adjustable remote-canister gas-pressurised suspension damper units with a bespoke HSV linear ratio steering rack which is fitted only to GTS models.

Designated as HSV Adjustable Performance Suspension, the package of advanced shock absorbers is supplied by suspension technology specialist, Öhlins Suspension. The rear features ‘piggyback’ style units that replace the original dampers while, at the front, the strut units have been cleverly adapted to allow Öhlins units to be fitted, complete with remote canisters mounted on the strut brace under the bonnet

Precisely tailored internal components and a mono-tube construction deliver a level of damping control that’s virtually unheard of in road car applications. By dramatically reducing internal stiction (friction) there is far greater fluidity of movement throughout the dampers’ operating range. The superb body and wheel control results in outstanding grip through corners and allows more of the engine’s awesome power to be unleashed in any given situation.

What’s more, the reduced stiction combined with the precise control of low speed internal bleed of the Öhlins units has produced a ride quality that is more compliant than ever before. Each unit allows convenient compression damping adjustment over eight positions to suit individual driving styles or race track conditions. Rebound damping is factory set and non-adjustable.

To enhance the brilliant suspension package and create a GTS that pushed the dynamic boundaries even further HSV engineers then focused their attention on steering. HSV’s chassis engineering team went one step further and came up with a unique rack ratio designed to improve responsiveness on centre while, atthe same time, maintaining the refined Grand Touring steering qualities of the GTS by not being over reactive during steady freeway driving, etc. The development process saw prototypes produced and refined, before tooling was created to manufacture the rack exclusively for use on this model – other steering system components remain the same.

HSV’s GTS models now boast a rack ratio that remains linear across its travel, as opposed to the previous variable ratio. It’s a perfect match for the vehicle’s driver oriented chassis with both greater predictability from ‘lock to lock’ as well as a quicker ratio ‘on centre’ which improves responsiveness and allows subtle inputs via the driver’s wrists rather than shoulders. Working in unison, the new suspension and steering dramatically lift the bar to create a totally new benchmark in GTS chassis dynamics – given the quality of the predecessors that’s an impressive statement, indeed.

The key to chassis performance is tyres. Variations in tyre temperature or pressure can have a major detrimental effect on grip and wear. To complete the package, another new feature introduced on GTS is the standard HSV TPM (Tyre Pressure Monitoring) system dynamically monitoring tyre pressures and temperatures. GTS drivers will swiftly receive a warning should they move outside preset limits.

While HSV’s premier 300kW C4B V8 quotes the same peak power and torque the adoption of the extractors and larger diameter exhaust from the HSV Y Series 2 has further smoothed and refined the awesome power delivery across the rev range.

With many GTS models being used for club level racing, motorkhanas, etc, a special HSV power steering oil cooler has been developed and is fitted as standard – it is also available as an aftermarket kit which can be fitted to other HSV models. Rapid steering angle movements at high speeds, such as in race track manoeuvres, create high pressure spikes within a conventional system which leads to increased oil temperature.

As with other unique HSV components this is no ordinary power steering cooler. HSV engineers developed this specialised system to not only maintain the oil temperature within limits but also, importantly, to provide the specific amount of backpressure required to deliver precise steering feel and feedback.

Hoses are premium quality and all fittings are double clamped. Indeed, during intense HSV durability testing the system handled every condition thrown at it, including sessions at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground and race tracks around Melbourne.

Additional standard specifications for the range-topping new GTS models include an array of performance enhancing features some of which are firsts for an Australian manufactured vehicle. HSV Xenon Performance driving lamps bring new-age lighting performance to match the on-road performance of GTS models and enable drivers to detect potential hazards earlier during night driving. These are true driving lights, not fog-lights, and work only when high beam is selected.

To help with obstacle detection when reversing HSV Rear Park Assist is fitted as standard, as is HSV LED Interior Lighting effect which uses a soft LED light to illuminate the centre console controls during night driving.

Inside, the GTS cockpit environment is as distinctive as ever and includes the new generation HSV Performance Seats inset with premium quality ‘chain-mail’ leather from Bridge-of-Weir Leather Company, in Scotland. They feature eight-way power adjustment (driver’s with memory), whiplash reducing Active Head Restraints and specially sculpted support to hold occupants securely under the prodigious cornering loads these cars are capable of generating.

Exterior colour selection for GTS Sedan includes Sting Red, Phantom Black, and HSV exclusives - HSV Racing Green and HSV Ultra Violet. For GTS Coupe - Phantom Black, Sting Red, Quicksilver, Devil Yellow, Impulse Blue, and HSV exclusives HSV Ultra Violet, HSV Racing Green.

So complete is the standard equipment list the only options are Satellite Navigation, HSV Sun Roof and HSV DVD entertainment system. Recommended retail prices for the new GTS models are: Sedan A$97,500 + ORC and Coupé A$98,500 + ORC.

HSV is intent on pointing out to potential customers that the latest GTS models are available only via special order through HSV Retailers so, it seems, HSV’s premium performance car will also be the rarest of the breed. HSV is already holding approximately 15 orders (placed late last year) for both GTS sedans and Coupé. Those orders will begin to be filled from April 2004.

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