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Mon 3 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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Big, but not clever

Noel Ebdon looks to the future as he ‘guess drives' the Holden HSV Grange.

Noel Ebdon looks to the future as he ‘guess drives' the Holden HSV Grange.

Even at standstill HSV Grange doesn't do subtle. The deep front valance, huge air intakes and a body kit that would make Michael Knight proud, all combine together to give you one seriously mean looking car. And things don't change much on the road either. The huge V8 snarls from its quad tipped exhausts and the car corners flat with surprising levels of grip.

GM's Australian-based tuning arm HSV, which is also responsible for the CSV CR8 you've just been reading about, has taken the workhorse Statesman (that's a Caprice to you and me) and tuned it to within an inch of its life. HSV has had to work hard to get this car to keep a firm hold on the road.

But despite its immense power, the Grange is still a Caprice underneath and it shows in the heavy handling and some of the interior trim. Push it too hard and the weight will start to take over and everything gets a bit messy. The gearbox does its job and the 10-way adjustable front seats are amazingly comfortable. All it needs is a more refined feel and better trim to really take on the Germans.

So is it any good? Well, it may be big, but it certainly isn't clever. This is a simple case of sticking a mighty V8 into a tried and tested chassis and then upgrading the other bits to try and cope.

Show the Grange an Italian thoroughbred or a German mile-muncher and it'll run off and hide. But that's not what this car is all about. This is a relatively inexpensive super performance saloon with a shovel-load of attitude.

If you want finesse then buy an AMG. But if you like your thrills loud and proud, then the HSV Grange is all that and more.

If GM dares to add this awesome saloon to their new CSV Middle East line up, the showrooms will be invaded. Nothing sells in the Gulf like a big, fast saloon, and this is one of the very biggest and fastest on the block.

NEED TO KNOWHSV Grange

Price:Price in Australia is $72,450

ME price $48,000 (est)

Engine:6.0-litre 16v V8, 412bhp@ 6000rpm, 406lb ft@ 4400rpm

Transmission:Six-speed automatic, rear wheel drive

Performance: 5.5sec 0-100kph (est), 270kph (est)

On sale in ME:Not yet!

Rating:3/5

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