Scotty drives the last and most powerful Commodore-based HSV ever - the GTS-R W1


IT’S THE last of the big bangers for the foreseeable future; HSV’s 474kW GTS-R W1 is sending the Aussie-built Commodore off with a bang! And we got to drive it… very briefly.

When our brothers in arms at Wheels Magazine needed a couple extra drivers for a photo shoot involving the HSV W1 we jumped at the chance to get a little time behind the wheel. Why wouldn’t you?

 The HSV GTS-R W1 is the king of the hill when it comes to Aussie muscle machines. No Australian made production car has had more power or been as quick as the W1, and while we don’t have any definitive performance figures, the old seat of the pants tells us that it is significantly quicker than the 430kW LSA-powered VF GTS. If you cast your mind back a couple years you’ll remember we ran 12.12 in an automatic HSV GTS at Drag Challenge, so we expect that the GTS-R W1 will be an 11-second machine in the right hands. The W1 packs 474kW and 815Nm thanks to the race-spec LS9 engine which features a dry-sump oil system, forged pistons, titanium conrods and a bigger 2.3-litre supercharger. The LS9 engines are hand built and the exhaust note is so good that it should be recorded and put on iTunes; we predict that it would be an instant chart topper.

 But the W1 is more than a fancy engine with a lot of horsepower. The AP 6-piston brakes are bigger than the wheels of most older cars with 410mm on the front and 372mm, and with super sticky 265 (f) and 295 (r) Pirelli Trofeo R racing tyres the W1 stops as well as it goes; and it goes like it’s got a solid fuel booster crammed into its date. On the suspension side of things the normal GTS-R gets the magnetic ride suspension that we’ve come to know and love, but the W1 does away with the MRC and gets the new race-inspired Supashock system that has been specially developed by Walkinshaw Racing.

 For those that can’t handle three-pedals, you might want to look elsewhere because the W1 comes in manual form only, with a close ratio TR6060 6-speed cog swapper being the only choice for this track inspired beast. The throws are nice and short; so short that the first time we used it we thought it hadn’t gone into gear properly, but it’s easy to get used to, as is the twin-plate ZF clutch.

On the road the suspension felt firm but not ‘rice-rocket kidney-belt’ jarring and the engine was happy to tootle along in whatever gear you chose. It’s hard to be anonymous in the W1 with its carbon fibre splitter and spoiler, but slot it into fourth and the engine is quiet. However, if you’re like us you’re more likely to pull it back a gear or two and explore the rev range and the audio qualities of that awesome Bi-modal exhaust. It’s harder on the hip pocket when you come to pump but so much more rewarding and enjoyable.

 But with limited build numbers and a $170,000 ($169,990) purchase price the GTS-R W1 is unlikely to be a daily driver. In fact we reckon it’ll fall into the instant collectible category and most of them will be locked up in personal collections, which means the opportunities to drive, or even see these road going rockets, are going to be very limited indeed. We’re just happy that we got the opportunity to give one a quick blat before they all go off to new homes. Which begs the question; with no more HSV Commodores, where do we go for our next high-horsepower adrenaline hit?