The all-new and fully imported 2018 Holden Commodore has been revealed at last, marking the next step in a journey that began – officially, at least – with the announcement in 2013 that the lion brand would transition from car maker to ‘national sales company’.
Released just hours after both liftback and wagon models were caught in the middle of promotional filming, these official renderings offer a first glossy look at what’s to come.
Largely identical to the new-generation Opel Insignia, this new Commodore replaces the locally manufactured line that will wind up in the year ahead. Indeed, production of Holden’s HFV6 engine has already come to an end.
Although made known some time ago, Holden has again confirmed the new Commodore was designed by its German stablemate Opel, “with input from the GM Holden team”.
Today’s digital unveiling comes on the heels of an event held in Melbourne in October, where Holden confirmed one of the new imported Commodore’s more significant points of difference from its Australian-made predecessor: four-cylinder engines, one of them diesel.
Most models in the range will draw power from 2.0-litre petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines, as opposed to the six- and eight-cylinder petrol options that have previously featured.
Outputs and fuel figures for those smaller new mills are still to be confirmed – although there are clues as to what we can expect.
Another departure: front-wheel drive will feature in most models, replacing the rear-wheel drive configuration of the current Commodore.
For those thirsting for more power, a flagship model will also be on offer, driven by an upgraded version of the 3.6-litre petrol V6 currently offered in the Commodore. It will produce 230kW and 370Nm of torque, up from 210kW and 350Nm in its existing form. Stop-start and Active Fuel Management will also feature.
GM’s new nine-speed automatic transmission – developed together with Ford – will make its local debut in that model, and all-wheel drive will also feature. That system will be the same ‘Twinster’ design that features in the Ford Focus RS, supplied by UK company GKN.
The Twinster package should be more than up to the task of keeping the flagship Commodore on course, with it already accommodating the Focus RS hatch’s bigger 257kW/440Nm figures (475Nm on overboost).
The new Commodore will also get a refined version of GM’s adaptive FlexRide suspension damper system, delivering on-the-go dynamic damper adjustments 500 times per second, depending on driving conditions.
Selectable drive mode settings will include Standard (automatic control based on sensors), Touring (a comfort-focused configuration) and Sport (reduced brake dive, tightened chassis control at speed, and more feedback through throttle and steering).
Also no secret is that the new Commodore is largely, apart from Australia-specific chassis tuning and the 3.6-litre engine unique to our market, identical to the Insignia that will wear Opel and Vauxhall badges in Europe and the UK respectively.
That means it will ride on GM’s E2XX platform, an evolution of the Epsilon II platform that debuted in 2008. That older version underpins models like the current Insignia, the short-lived last Saab 9-5 and the older Chevrolet/Holden Malibu, while the overhauled E2XX design debuted beneath the sharper new Chevrolet Malibu not offered in Australia.
Above: the recently spied 2018 Commodore wagon. Details for this body shape are still to come. More spy photos below.
GM’s goal with the E2XX platform was to deliver reduced weight figures, more spacious interiors and longer wheelbases. Compared to the current VE-to-VFII Commodore series, which rides on the world-class rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform developed in Australia, the E2XX-based Commodore promises to be 200kg to 300kg lighter.
Highlights of the new Commodore’s features, depending on the model, will include LED matrix headlights, massage seats, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, one-touch folding rear seats, ‘express’ up/down control for all windows, a powered liftgate on the wagon, and active noise cancellation in the cabin.
Standard safety features in the new Commodore – which will land at the same time that ANCAP aligns its crash-testing criteria with Euro NCAP – will include autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, speed limit cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree camera.
Jeremy Tassone, Holden’s Engineering Group Manager for Vehicle Development, says the new Commodore will offer ” the best of Europe” – although his assertion that it will be “a true driver’s car in the way Commodore has always been” will be sure to raise the ire of rear-wheel-drive obsessives.
Away from its drivetrain, the new Commodore’s biggest sticking point for some buyers may be its size.
While the outgoing model is a ‘large’ car, the current Insignia is a mid-sized offering. The new generation, to be badged Commodore in Australia, is still notably smaller than the big sedan and wagon it will replace in the Holden range.
At 4899mm long, the new Insignia/Commodore liftback is 74mm shorter than the VF II, while its 2829mm wheelbase is an even more significant 86mm shorter. No surprise, its 1863mm width is 36mm down on the VF II Commodore.
In the cabin, that translates to 44mm less hip room (at 1410mm) and 13mm less rear head room (952mm), although knee room is claimed to be identical to the VF II’s 85mm.
For reference, the current Insignia is 4830mm long in sedan form, riding on a 2737mm wheelbase.
With the Commodore’s long-running rival the Ford Falcon now out to pasture, the new model will face off against the the blue oval brand’s Mondeo (2850mm wheelbase, 4869mm long), along with other mid-sizers gone large like the Mazda 6 (2830mm/4865mm), Subaru Liberty (2751/4735) and Volkswagen Passat (2791/4767).
An official world premiere date and venue for the new Insignia/Commodore is still to be confirmed, although an appearance at March’s Geneva motor show is likely on the cards.
Watch for more details on Australia’s new Holden Commodore to come in the next year, ahead of its 2018 market debut.
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