Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Hummer H2
Hummer of a racecar
September 2005

I`VE done a lot of cool things as a motoring writer, and some a little bizarre, but not many experiences can be compared to driving a Hummer around a race-track.

That`s right. Hummer. As in Arnold Schwarzenegger "I`ll be back" kinda Hummer.

That`s right. Around a race-track. Darlington Park Raceway. Flat to the boards, smoking brakes, squealing tyres, the whole nine yards.

The really interesting thing is how surprisingly well the H2 Hummer, imported by Corvette Queensland in Gympie, handles being hurled into corners at high speed.

I`m sure when the marketing execs came up with the company slogan of "Like nothing else" they didn`t quite have this in mind.

Admittedly it took a bit of wheel work to make it happen, and being such a big machine the weight transfer when turning into corners was off-putting at first, but the stability and grip levels of the car once that happened was eerily impressive.

From now on when I watch a Jackie Chan movie with someone getting airborne in one around the streets of San Francisco I might just say "hey, that`s possible".

Thankfully, we weren`t paying for brakes, tyres or fuel during the press day, other wise the enjoyment may have been dulled somewhat.

Of course, the Hummer has a reputation of a "go-anywhere" machine. They are more of a big deal in America than here, obviously, where bigger is always supposedly better.

At about five metres in length and two metres wide, it also takes some parking, but only if you care about how many Barinas and Festivas you crush during the process.

Ground clearance is 250mm, which can be jacked up another 25mm with the optional air suspension.

Approach angle is 40.8 degrees (42.8 air suspension), departure 39.6 (40.0), breakover 25.8 (27.5), side slope capability 40 and grade capacity 60. It has a wading depth of 500mm and can scale a 400mm vertical wall.

With a 130 litre fuel tank you get about 500km from bowser to bowser. The kerb weight of the car is a touch under three tonnes and tow a little more than that also.

And the old throwaway line if "you can put a tonne of gear in it" is literally the amount of weight you can get including humans. There`s certainly enough room to sleep inside if you forget the tent.

The H2 Hummer comes in two specification levels for the Aussie market: Desert Pack or Luxury Pack.

The base-model is $142,000 which isn`t bad considering the sheer ruggedness of the vehicle. It gets dual airbags, remote central locking, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, automatic headlights, eight-way power seats, leather interior, CD player with BOSE nine-speaker system including sub-woofer, heated mirrors and underbody protection.

The Luxury pack gets a sliding sunroof (for those times when you want to ferry the pope or Arnie around, waving to the fans), rear spring air suspension, chrome accessories such as bonnet latches, fuel filler cap, roof racks, door handles and the like, heated Ebony leather seats and six-stack CD.

There is an Australia-wide dealer network and a three-year/75,000 kilometre warranty.

The most obvious question everyone asks is about fuel economy, or lack thereof. Seriously though, I don`t really think anyone who buys a Hummer would give it a second thought.

A Hummer is one of those things like a boat that you don`t really need. Even the importers admit these are no more likely to venture off-road than the average Aussie four-wheel-drive.

It`s a status symbol; a "nice to have". And if you`ve got the money to spend on it, petrol prices will be the last thing you`ll care about.

Who knows, some eccentric Aussie millionaire might even start up its own racing class. Or perhaps a belt-the-Barina parking competition.


SEATS: up to 8

ENGINE: Vortec 6000SFI

POWER: 242kW at rpm

TORQUE: 495Nm at rpm

TRANSMISSION: Hydra-Matic 4L65-E four-speed electronically controlled automatic, dual range full-time 4WD

FUEL CONSUMPTION: Quoted 22 litres/100km and we weren`t about to empty the tank and fill it up to confirm or deny

PROS: Surprisingly civilised on the road, even under race conditions; pitch a tent in the back; goes anywhere; novelty factor; street cred

CONS: Big; love it or hate it looks; thirsty

BOTTOM LINE: Desert Pack $142,000 plus dealer delivery and on-road costs. Luxury Pack an extra $13,000.

DEALER CONTACT: Corvette Queensland, Gympie.