Holden Crewman Cross 8: future classic
Future Classics: Holden Crewman Cross 8. Unique Cars mag expert JK peers into the crystal ball for a top Aussie pick
Holden Crewman Cross 8
As both Subaru and Ford toyed with the idea of all-wheel drive, twin-cab utes based on their passenger models, Holden delivered the production Commodore-based Cross 8 at the close of 2003. The Cross 8 then disappeared without trace inside of three years, so was it a classic in the making or a costly blind alley? The answer is both.
During the fierce crossfire between Holden and Ford as to which company was correct in backing all-wheel-drive versions of the Commodore and Territory respectively, it was Ford that argued that the packaging of its purpose-built Territory was more important than its all-wheel-drive capability. With the Territory still around and half of its AWD versions since dropped, the verdict is self-evident. Before Holden would admit defeat on the issue, several interesting AWD Commodore variations emerged. None more so than the Cross 8.
Holden also delivered the Adventra AWD wagon and helped HSV with the Coupe 4 version of the Monaro with the same V8 AWD powertrain. The Cross 8 not only outlived both, it was the only AWD model to gain Holden's Gen IV 6.0-litre V8 with drive-by-wire throttle in its final VZ guise, an engine desperately needed by the Coupe 4.
There simply won't be another all-wheel-drive, twin-cab model based on a full-sized family passenger car ever, let alone one with a petrol V8 under the bonnet. Turning a unitary passenger car like the Commodore into a full cab-chassis with its own extended wheelbase, special cab, low-volume AWD transmission and live rear axle requires an engineering and tooling commitment that could never make sense again.
Traditional purpose-built twin-cab utes offer much the same function on a wheelbase under 3.0m, width under 1.7m and length under 5.0m and continue to close the gap in refinement and looks. The Cross 8 was 5323mm long and 1954mm wide on a 3207mm wheelbase. It used fuel at an alarming rate and it was a challenge in tight city conditions, yet rear seat comfort was still way below passenger-car standards.
Sales of Holden's offshore Colorado commercials and Captiva SUV have since exposed the folly of the long and wide passenger-car packaging of the Cross 8 and Adventra in their attempts to be something they weren't. But despite its flaws, the Cross 8's unique combination of style, effortless performance, space and refinement will always be something special.
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