Remember those 185i Clubsports? At the time, they seemed like the pinnacle of power and the first-gen HSV owners considered themselves legendary peddlers alongside big names like Murph and Peter Brock.

Now, you meet someone with one of those ageing Commodores and it's incredibly difficult to resist the temptation to point out that the hot hatch version of the Mazda3 has more grunt than their big Aussie eight.

But when you look down the spec list for HSV's new range, the numbers are getting insane. At the top end is the new GTS - with a whopping 430kW pumped out by the monster mill from Chevrolet's widely celebrated LS1. But back down the HSV roster are some equally staggering figures. The "baby" Clubsport has a meagre 317kW, the R8 manages 325, and then the new R8 with a host of "SV" tweaks gets 340kW.

Those are big power outputs, and the SV pack manages to nudge just 5kW over Ford Performance Vehicles' 335kW GT-P. That, according to the HSV engineers, was no coincidence and has made the company very happy indeed. And maybe just a little bit smug.


As Driven goes to print this week, I'm heading out to Phillip Island with a bunch of writers, HSV's genius designers and a few V8 racing stars - including Kiwi legend Greg Murphy - to see just what the company has managed to achieve with the new VF Commodore, freshly launched by Holden.

The Gen-F HSVs are, without doubt, some serious machines, and after a day's driving on public roads to familiarise ourselves with the cars, the prospect of getting out on the track with them and seeing what they're capable of around one of the most technical circuits at this end of the planet is thrilling.

We'll be featuring HSV in Saturday's Driven - keep an eye out - but there'll be image galleries live on as you read this.

Big power struggles like the HSV and FPV battle are always interesting, and when you look at some of the numbers generated by European machinery like the AMG Mercs, the M Performance BMWs and the RS Audis, you've got to wonder where it will end.

Some see the future as a bland queue of zero-emission appliances, but we've seen it and it's at the end of two long, smoking lines of black rubber.

What do you think the future holds for performance cars?