Holden will switch its import line-up from the current US-based, South Korean-built cars back to European-based Opel models in time for a next-generation model renewal, a General Motors executive has revealed.
With Holden Cruze sales down and a model replacement expected in 2015 or 2016, one or two years before the Elizabeth plant closure, it is possible that the company may pull local production of the small hatchback and sedan early, particularly if a next-generation Opel Astra is launched.
The next Astra is, according to the insider, ready to make a return wearing a Holden badge to replace the Cruze, but the nameplate itself may return even earlier than 2015/2016 as the three-door performance models – the Astra GTC Sport and OPC hatch – may be imported in this current generation and run alongside Cruze.
It is expected the next-generation Chevrolet Sonic, which is sent to Australia and rebadged Barina, will be more closely twinned with the Opel Corsa. Likewise, Opel is expected to do another of its own version of the Captiva, which was originally known locally as the Captiva Maxx but is now known as the Captiva 5. The European versions will naturally fall into line with the Astra.
Although it is widely rumoured the next Holden Commodore will be closely based on the next-generation US-designed mid-sized Malibu, choosing the Opel Insignia instead – both cars currently share the same platform – means that Holden would have access to an all-wheel-drive version that would harness the power of a performance flagship better than the front-drive-only Malibu.
Holden would also have access to Opel Performance Centre tuning. Given that General Motors is shutting down its local engineering base and selling off its proving ground, a next Insignia OPC would provide Commodore with a performance model already sports-tuned by its European-brand cousin.
It would also allow HSV greater ability to further tune-up the next Commodore. The current Insignia OPC that briefly sold here utilised a Melbourne-built 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 engine that produced 239kW of power and 435Nm of torque.
A next-generation model would likely produce even more power and, thanks to all-wheel drive, HSV could potentially tune the next car even further. HSV has said that it will develop its own version of any future Holden-based car.
Although the switch from US-based South Korean-built cars to European-developed Opels may seem like a back-flip for Holden, confirmation that the next Holden Commodore will be made, along with the fact the local engineering centre is closing and Opel produces performance models, means there’s the possibility of a rare alignment for Holden come 2017 – European based cars from Barina to Commodore and Captiva.