The new HSV WK Grange

Published: 28 August 2003

Pictured: HSV.

HSV’s latest iteration of its long wheelbase flagship, the WK Grange, is a vehicle that defies being pigeonholed.

Its cavernous accommodation and lavish appointments combined with trademark HSV styling, engine performance and driving dynamics make it a unique proposition in today’s market. So much so, in fact, that legitimate rivals are virtually impossible to find without stretching to exorbitantly priced European models.

HSV has released an all-new model, which will be built in limited numbers – with only 100 examples in 2003 for Australia and New Zealand.

With the WK model, Grange – and HSV - takes another bold step forward in terms of style, performance and luxury specifications, effectively blurring the line between limousine-style luxury and a performance-bred sedan that delivers exhilarating driving enjoyment.

“Grange remains our ultimate luxury limousine,” said HSV General Manager, Chris Payne. “Since 2000 we have produced only 600 examples of Grange, and they remain favourites with their owners. `

“In July we previewed the car under security to over 1000 previous owners and prospective buyers at private functions. Approximately 60 of the 2003 production run of 100 vehicles have already been sold.

“In this market people are buying exclusivity, but they also want a car that makes a statement. Grange is a big statement car. It says, “I’m successful, confident, prepared to lead the way”.

“Successful people will buy this car because they will be proud to drive the best performance/luxury car Australia has to offer.

“They’re on their way up – and the HSV Grange is a symbol of self-made success.”

Exterior appearance is full of character. Frontal styling literally leads the way with an air of authority and understated aggression, while integrated side skirts, a lowered ride height and 18-inch alloy wheels enhance the impression of a vehicle that’s at one with the road. A unique rear décor panel and subtle boot lid spoiler round off a typically cohesive HSV styling package.

The unique Grange front bumper now incorporates both fog and cornering lamps. With the headlamps switched on and the turn indicators activated they give an extra margin of safety by aiming an illuminating beam in the intended direction of travel. Parking is simplified with the standard rear mounted HSV Near Object Detection System (NODS).

The advancements made by HSV engineers centre on detailed changes to both the intake and exhaust system, along with minor engine calibration refinements. On the intake side, a redesigned lower air box, with bigger opening, allows the 5.7 litre engine to draw in a larger quantity of air and be more isolated from engine heat. Access to cooler air ensures the engine is less susceptible to heat soak when the vehicle remains stationary – for example at traffic lights – which can affect initial launch performance.

The ‘zip’ tube that directs air from the air box to the engine has also been modified. Its ‘bellows’ section has been deleted and replaced with a tube that has a smoother internal shape – similar to that on HSV’s C4B 300kW engine – which is less disruptive to airflow at all engine speeds.

When it came to HSV’s bespoke exhaust system, HSV engineers set themselves the challenge of creating the ultimate set of extractors. They began by precisely matching each primary pipe to its corresponding exhaust port in the cylinder head. The eight primary pipes were then subtly curved to achieve ideal gas flow into the redesigned four-into-one collectors. Pipe diameters were also optimised for maximum efficiency – primary pipes increase from 41mm to 44mm, collectors to catalytic converters go from 57mm to 63mm, as do the converter outlets. All the modifications were extensively road tested and the new system passed strict ADR drive by noise regulations.

As if it didn’t before, HSV’s thoroughbred power plant now produces truly outstanding numbers – maximum power 285kW @ 5800rpm (292kW DIN) and maximum torque 510Nm @ 4800rpm. What makes it even more amazing is that the extra thrust and responsiveness is spread right through the rev range.

Accompanying the engine modifications is a change to introduce the 4L65E heavy-duty electronic four-speed automatic transmission which was first introduced on Y Series GTS models. This unique transmission was chosen and calibrated to provide improved up-shift quality and refinement.

Complementing the increased engine performance is the best ever HSV ‘Prestige’ suspension ride and handling package. Here, the biggest single change is the fitting of a specific steering rack for WK Grange. It incorporates a tailored rack ratio which remains direct and sporty without being too aggressive in its response. Integrated into the overall package, it ensures a very prestigious feel to the WK Grange driving experience.

When tuning the suspension HSV chassis engineers concentrated on optimising the roll stiffness and pitching motion. Basic components are carried over – including the standard rear self-levelling system – but the rear spring rate has been revised and shock absorbers are now tuned with the same digressive characteristic used so successfully on Y Series Senator.

The result is a luxury car that is also very quick on its feet. Ride and handling traits are similar to the high standard set by Senator and deliver a flat, refined and very sophisticated feel.

A powerful HSV ‘Performance’ brake system puts the finishing touch to Grange’s impressive dynamic package. Customers looking for an even sportier edge have the option of the HSV 19-inch ‘Luxury’ five spoke alloy wheels, with wider Pirelli P-Zero tyres.

The conundrum comes when WK Grange’s exhilarating driving enjoyment is considered against its vast interior dimensions and lavish list of new standard features. It’s a combination that effectively positions the Grange in its own unique niche.

Rich leather upholstery and deep plush carpet – all finished in an attractive ‘Light Shale’ colour – sets the tone for the cabin ambiance. Being an HSV the interior also includes a host of unique sporting highlights, such as leather bound HSV steering wheel, alloy pedals and HSV instrument cluster.

Driver and front passenger are pampered by redesigned eight-way electrically adjustable HSV Prestige seats, with the driver’s including three individual memory settings which can be recalled at the touch of a button. Not only superbly comfortable they also incorporate a new passive safety feature – active head restraints. In the event of a rear impact they reduce the chance of whiplash neck injuries by using a lever and pivot system to push the head restraint forward and upwards to meet the occupant’s head.

Seated front or rear, WK Grange occupants are cosseted by luxury and convenience appointments. A standard dual zone climate control system allows driver and front passenger to dial in their own separate comfort preferences. Anything from heavy-metal to classical music is sure to sound crystal clear on the Blaupunkt Premium audio system complete with 12-speaker, 430 watt amplifier with sub-woofer and six stack in-dash CD player.

One practical new feature offers two different electronic memory settings linked to the vehicle’s two individual keys. When each driver presses their key’s ‘unlock’ button a variety of vehicle functions are automatically adjusted to their preferred settings – driver’s seat adjustment, climate control, radio, trip computer, speed alert, transmission mode, instrument dimmer, electric mirrors, electric aerial height and headlamp time delays.

A dash mounted high-level multi function display is standard, as is the Holden Assist personal security system (where the service is available), leaving the only options satellite navigation and an HSV sunroof.

The delights of owning an HSV have traditionally been driver focused but the WK Grange also reserves some very impressive treats for those travelling in the palatial rear compartment. The individually sculptured rear seats make a very inviting place to enjoy the journey or to watch a favourite movie on the standard DVD player complete with seven-inch screens built into the front head restraints. Headphones secreted in the centre rear armrest allow the entertainment to be enjoyed without disturbing other passengers.

A convenient new overhead console puts climate control and audio adjustment within easy reach and also contains extra speakers for greater sound quality. If required there’s even a first aid kit stored behind the rear seat centre access port.

The elevated level of standard equipment evident in WK Grange reflects the fact that HSV staff took the time to listen to current and prospective Grange owners who requested specific luxury features, such as the overhead console and DVD system, while maintaining the HSV driving experience.

Colour choice for the range includes 7 colours, including the exclusive HSV Racing Green.

By refusing to compromise between luxury and performance HSV has created a unique market niche for WK Grange as an affordable luxury/sports contender. There are rivals that offer performance but not luxury – others offer luxury but not performance. Very few offer both, even less also boast sizable interior accommodation and none can do it at an affordable price level.

Whether enjoying the driving experience behind the wheel or stretched out in the ‘hectares’ of space in the rear, HSV’s latest Grange makes a very convincing argument.

The recommended retail price of the new HSV Grange is A$85,990, plus on road costs, which is only A$216 more than the previous model.

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