Holden's VE Commodore SV6 and SS range have a big weight on their shoulders as they begin their invasion of the American market.
Badged as Pontiac G8 and G8 GT respectively, GM is hoping the Aussie muscle cars can attract male buyers in their mid-30s to mid-40s. According to Pontiac, our home-grown Commodores have 'similar styling to the BMW 5-series' but cost less and have far more family appeal.
Not having to face the might of Ford's XR6 and XR8 range, the Pontiac G8 will go head to head with the Dodge Charger and the Nissan Maxima while the BMW 5 series and Nissan Infiniti G35 would be "aspirational challengers".
The Commodore Ute will also make it to the U.S. market in 2009 despite recent suggestions that the strong Aussie dollar will make Ute exports unprofitable. The "sport truck", as Pontiac like to call it, will be aimed at buyers in their 20s to their 50s.
Currently Holden is aiming to export between 30,000 to 40,000 G8 sedans to the United States.
The SV6 (Pontiac G8) is powered by Holden's 3.6-litre V6 engine that manages 195kW and 340Nm of torque. Meanwhile the Pontiac G8 GT packs a 6.0-litre V8 that punishes the road with 270kW and 530Nm of torque.
One feature that is yet to make it to Australian spec SS Commodore is the active fuel management that can turn off four of eight cylinders once the car reaches a steady speed.
Official figures from Pontiac put the SS Commodore's 0-96km/h (0-60 mph) time at a remarkable 5.3 seconds while the SV6 comes in at a respectable seven seconds flat.
The big news, however, is not the added features and better engine management system - it's the price.
The starting U.S. price for the Commodore SV6 - Pontiac G8 is $27,595 (~$30,125 AUD) while the Commodore SS - Pontiac G8 GT is $29,999 (~$32,750 AUD). Both models are only offered in Automatic (5-speed for G8 and 6-speed for G8 GT).
It begs the question, why do Australians pay $41,290 for the SV6 auto and $47,290 for the SS Commodore auto while our American allies are getting potentially a better car, for more than $10,000 less?