The replacement for the Holden Commodore – whether it retains its name or not – will not simply be a rebadged version of the next-generation Opel Insignia.
Holden designers and engineers are now confirmed to be deeply involved in the project, which still has around three years of development time remaining, with mules confirmed to be in testing at the local General Motors arm’s Lang Lang proving ground outside Melbourne, Victoria, that was only recently saved from being sold off.
CarAdvice understands that the aims and objectives of the local team have been embedded into what is likely to be its donor car, the next Opel Insignia (expected to be based on the Monza concept – above), from its inception, and that the Holden and Opel versions will differ.
“We are driving this car already in Lang Lang,” confirmed GM vice president of international relations Stefan Jacoby, though he refused to confirm the Insignia-based model.
“I love that proving ground [and] the Holden engineering team will have a part to integrate this vehicle into the Australian market.
“It is very obvious that the successor needs to be stronger than today’s model, and we understand that better than anybody else, and we will do everything we can, with modern technology.”
The Australian design team, lauded for their performance at this week’s Detroit motor show creating both the show-stopping Buick Avenir large luxury sedan (above) and the Chevrolet Bolt small electric vehicle (below) concepts, will also have their efforts rewarded with a say in what the Commodore replacement looks like.
“We don’t have the clear design yet defined, but what we know is the proportions,” began Jacoby. “Did you see today the Buick concept car? It’s maybe the highlight of the motor show, made by our Australian designers. Look at the Bolt: designed in Australia.
“Honestly, there can’t be better cars than this, and we would be stupid definitely to not do this, to be giving up our really high valued design studios and resources which we have in Australia. We will even strengthen this. This is evidence that this team integrated into a global design team can really deliver the best of the best.”
It’s a feeling supported by GM vice president of global design, Ed Welburn. Asked directly whether a future Holden should have Australian ‘culture’ embedded into it, he replied: “Sure, it’s gotta be there.”
“Their future is that certainly they are the champions for the Holden brand,” he added.
The design director at Opel, meanwhile, is on record saying the replacement for the Insignia is “one of the most beautiful cars seen in years.”
But the Commodore replacement will be unlikely to utilise V6 or V8 powertrains, the latter of which will be left for the 2018 sports coupe now confirmed to wear a Holden badge.
“You know that with today’s technology, especially in respect of downsizing, for example, we can overperform to a traditional six- or eight-cylinders,” tells Jacoby. “So a three-cylinder is doing more than a four-cylinder traditionally, and so on and so on. And that means actually that we have to ensure that with this modern technology, better fuel economy, better CO2, better weight ratio than today’s model [so] we can achieve a better performance.”
Nor is the Commodore replacement likely to be rear-wheel drive, despite some rumours circulating that Opel will revive its Omega large sedan dropped in 2003 with a re-skinned version of the Cadillac CTS to help amortise platform costs.
“I’m coming from a front-wheel-drive group, the VW/Audi group, and with this company we don’t believe there is a true disadvantage between a front-wheel-drive Audi at the time with BMW rear-wheel drive,” told Jacoby, who worked between 1985 and 2001 at Volkswagen AG.
“I think it depends on how much you can bring to the road, in respect of sportiness, and active driving and not necessarily a decision on whether it is front- or rear-wheel drive.”
Local production of the current VF-generation Holden Commodore will cease in 2017, with a yet-unnamed sedan replacement to follow alongside a V8-engined two-door sports coupe.