Holden Special Vehicles(HSV) is committing to a future beyond 2017, according to its chief engineer, even if the next-generation Holden Commodore switches to front-wheel drive.
Asked directly whether HSV will work with whatever the next-generation Commodore (or Cruze) will be, HSV engineering manager Graham Dusting replied “yes”.
HSV has already created development proposals for its version of at least one of the two models that Holden will build at its Adelaide manufacturing facilities from 2016, both of which will be based on global architectures.
“They [General Motors] have supported our proposals so far,” told Dusting.
The engineering chief hints that the next-generation Commodore will be a big step-change. It is most likely that the Commodore, which is currently built on an indigenous rear-wheel-drive architecture, will switch to a front-wheel-drive and possibly all-wheel-drive platform.
All-wheel drive is “something we’ll look at”, according to Dusting, who admits that the move to global architecture for Commodore was initially concerning.
“There’s initial concern because we’ve been comfortable in our little world,” he cites. “We learned to do things quite well and quite efficiently.”
Although some Holden buyers may no longer know (or care) which end their Commodore drives from, Dusting concedes that most HSV buyers know the product is rear-wheel drive. He also says that HSV would probably have begged Holden to keep that configuration.
“I’m sure it would have been spoken about at board level. And we have senior Holden executives on the board, so it’s obviously spoken about at length.
“Whether HSV dropped to their knees and begged to keep rear-wheel drive … or if they did it didn’t … well, we don’t know yet…”
“HSV is always going to have to have more power than Holden … so if we can’t do front-wheel drive with too many kilowatts we’ll have to look at other options.
“Kids these days, I’m not sure if you said ‘which end does your car drive?’ they’d know. If the [HSV] brand’s strong enough … kids are starting to associate with HSV, they might not care [about rear drive].
“There’s no real secret that everyone’s going to have to adapt a little bit.”
Dusting confirmed that a HSV version of this generation of Holden Cruze was kyboshed by General Motors, not Holden, but says that creating a bona fide HSV hot hatch version of the next generation isn’t out of the question.
“It’s a lot to do with what General Motors will let us do. The [current] Cruze never got off the ground, it never took off, it never gained any real momentum, because we were told to stop…
But a HSV Cruze is “certainly something we’ll be looking at”.
Dusting does, however, cite a number of potential issues with a HSV hot hatch, including the general competitiveness of the segement and potentially reduced profit margins.
“If you can imagine how many cars are in that market, all of a sudden you’re against that Renault [Megane RS265] and the [Volkswagen] Scirocco, you name it, it’s there…
“HSV are used to pretty good margins. Could we charge enough for it?”
But could HSV create a version of the Cruze that is equal or better than those fierce competitors?