RETURN OF THE COMMODORE

By: Andy Enright

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Holden has given us an early taste of the imported next-gen Commodore. Will it catch on?

New Commodore 1610

RETURN OF THE COMMODORE

Holden would have it that there’s a precedent here. That we’ve been through the process of bringing European-designed Commodores into Australia before, 38 years ago to be exact, when the Opel Rekord E-based VB series appeared. Of course, that ignores the small matter of the 1978 VB being screwed together here and enjoying a $110m programme of ‘Australianisation’.

That fight has been fought and lost, so it’s time to look forward rather than back. Holden’s made a bunch of bold promises for the new ‘NG’ (Next Generation) Commodore, and where there will still be many of you who feel it’s sacrilegious to use the Commodore badge on an imported vehicle, Holden’s crunched the numbers and reckons that it’ll attract a lot more new customers to the nameplate. So what will they be getting?

Quite a sizeable chunk to be honest. The market for big family cars can’t be as moribund as we’d been led to believe, if the Insignia-based Commodore’s dimensions are anything to go by. It’s a mere 74mm shorter and 36mm narrower than the outgoing VF-II rear-driver, so it takes up about as much road as a VT-VZ Commo (1997-2006) and with a big hatch on the back, it’ll carry a lot more luggage. The Sportback shape is also joined by a Wagon. Holden reckons on a model for model weight saving of between 200 and 300kg, which combined with better aero and cylinder disengagement on some engine should help with the fuel figures.

The car’s been honed on the Nurburgring, so it shouldn’t be a dynamic duffer either. There’s a fiendishly clever Twinster all-wheel drive system that’s been developed in partnership with GKN, a variant of which also appears on the Land Rover Freelander and Ford Focus RS. It does away with the need for a rear differential by using a pair of clutches to apportion drive left and right. The range-topping Commodore variant gets a transversely-mounted 3.6-litre V6 producing 230kW/370Nm, powering all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. That’s a healthy 20kW/20Nm increase on the current 3.6-litre V6 currently found under the bonnet of a VF II and coupled with the weight savings and traction advantage of the Twinster AWD delivers a  sprint to 100km/h in around six seconds.

The bad news? No V8s and no manual transmissions. And the entry-level cars send drive to the front wheels only, although Holden does promise that this ‘NG’ Commodore will feature the most powerful base Commodore to date. We’ll have to wait until the tail end of next year to drive the production-ready cars but it’ll certainly mark an interesting chapter in the Commodore story.

One question remains. Should Holden have retired the name? Heck, do we buy the fact that it’s a Holden at all? The customers, as always, will have the last word. You’re the ones who decide this car’s fate, so what’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments, on our Facebook page or email us at uniquecars@bauertrader.com.au. We’d really love to hear your take.

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