At the beginning of this year, General Motors International president Stefan Jacoby revealed the brand would introduce “something which truly fulfils the requirement of a true Holden sports car” after local production of V8-powered Holden Commodore performance models wraps up at the end of 2017.
Initially, many believed the Chevrolet Camaro to be the front-runner to fill that role, though those rumours were quashed in May when GM unveiled the next-generation car but confirmed a right-hand-drive version was not in the current production plan.
Since then, traditional Holden rival Ford – which had earlier committed to building the Camaro’s rival, the Mustang, in right-hand drive and bringing it to Australia – has racked up more than 3000 pre-orders for its pony car ahead of a local launch at the end of this year.
Speaking exclusively with CarAdvice ahead of the Frankfurt motor show, Jacoby admitted those Mustang sales numbers suggested not offering the new Camaro in Australia “could be” a missed opportunity for the company, though he followed that with a guarantee that Holden’s sports car would be in a completely different performance league.
“We are lagging behind Ford, obviously, in many areas,” Jacoby said, “[but] it doesn’t mean we don’t have the answer.
“I think when we come into the market we’re going to have a big surprise. It will be better than the Mustang.
“There are some areas of the sports car [market] where Ford has no competitors to us. So that’s our opportunity.
"The super sports car – they don’t have it.”
Jacoby’s reference to a “super sports car” seems to point to only one vehicle: the Corvette.
The current Corvette is powered by a 339kW/620Nm 6.2-litre V8 and accelerates from 0-60mph (0-96km/h) in 3.8 seconds – figures that give it a clear advantage over the Mustang.
GM doesn’t build the Corvette in right-hand drive, however, and it's unlikely to do so with the current car. That means Holden will most likely have to wait for the model changeover that’s due towards the end of the decade before adding the car to its range.
The Corvette would also be far more expensive than Holden’s current V8 Commodore range, which starts at $44,490 plus on-road costs in SS manual sedan form, and Ford’s compact Mustang V8, which kicks off at $54,990.
Indeed, the Corvette would likely cost closer to $100,000, making it more of a successor price-wise for the $94,490 HSV GTS.
Jacoby said the company was not ready to make an official announcement about the forthcoming sports car, but insisted plans were on track to keep performance pumping through Holden’s veins.
“You guys need a sports car over there, a Holden sports car,” he said.
“I think a brand like Holden, we need to maintain the sportiness, it’s in the genes. [That’s why] we will have a top-of-the-line sports car in Australia.”