Holden won’t, however, confirm the continuation of the Omega nameplate in the VF Commodore range, referring to the new model as “the entry level car”.
The Omega joined the Holden Commodore range in the 2006 VE generation, replacing the Executive nameplate used continuously since the 1984 VK. Less promising for a return is the middle-grade Berlina nameplate, which unlike the Executive has been used for a fuller 29 years – Holden has said it plans to cull the number of variants it offers with the VF Commodore generation, and the slow-selling Berlina is all-but-confirmed to be dropped.
The Omega nameplate may be in a similar position, having quickly established itself as the same fleet fodder the Executive was, launching in VE guise with unpainted door handles and wheel covers.
“I think we’ve changed our thinking around this [the base car]” says Holden marketing manager of large car Kristian Aquilina.
“It’s fed into the way we’ve managed certain spec, features, finish, trim… in the entry level car.
“Omega was there just to play the role for the fleet customer.”
Pressed whether the Omega nameplate would be used again, Aquilina declined to comment, but did add that “I think it’s unfair to say it’s tainted, as we do sell Omegas to retail customers … it’s not as though it’s sick. It’s not a broken brand.
“[But] VF gives us the opportunity to look at everything, and we’ve looked at everything”.
Holden confirmed that the new entry-level car will include an eight-inch touchscreen and auto-park assist standard, potentially making the new base VF Commodore the cheapest car available on the market with such equipment.
Holden managing director Mike Devereux did, however, refer to the base car as an Omega.
“The Omega will still appeal to mums and dads and certain fleet customers, it’s just going to be a cut-above what people expect in that kind of car.”
Backing his boss, Holden design director Andrew Smith said that even Ed Welburn, the vice president of GM design, was impressed by the new base model.
“Even the entry level car, it really is a class above or a class beyond. The interior design is flowing, it’s integrated … it really does feel premium and the execution of this car is going to be absolutely world class.
“I had the opportunity to take Mike Simcoe and Ed Welburn [VP global design] down to Lang Lang proving ground, and we looked at a few things down there … he was like a kid in a toy shop.
“We also rolled out VF Commodore. Ed walked over to the car, all very nice, all very premium – and then opened the door and he was just gobsmacked. He was absolutely blown away. But the thing is I wasn’t showing him this car [Calais V] I was showing him the base model.
“He just kept coming back to me and saying ‘is this really the base car?’
“I think that what we had done is really exceeded expectations…”