Holden allowed CarAdvice, along with a handful of Australian motoring media, into the depths of the company's design centre to outline the 2018 Holden Commodore, which is due to arrive locally in February 2018.
In the history of the company, there has never been such early access to a new car program, especially one shared with Europe.
- 2018 Holden Commodore to share platform and components with Opel Insignia and to sit on E2XX architecture
- 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, front-wheel drive for bulk of range
- 230kW/370Nm all-wheel-drive 3.6-litre V6 to power top sports model (SS Commodore replacement), mated to nine-speed automatic transmission
- Two variants to launch locally — a Sportback (hatchback) and Sportwagon (station wagon), to be around 200-300kg lighter than Commodore
- All-wheel drive system to feature torque vectoring and twin-clutch rear differential and adaptive suspension, shared with Ford Focus RS
- Huge Australian engineering program, with Australian team involved in global buy off drives
- Our artist's impressions show what we expect the vehicles to look like in lift-back and station wagon trim
Holden's input into the next-generation Commodore began over five years ago when the lion brand first began investigating options for the Commodore, beyond VF II.
As we are already aware, the next-generation Commodore will retain that name, but we can now reveal that it will be identical to the new Insignia. No body panels will change, only badges and specifications.
The all-new Commodore will share the Insignia's E2XX platform (an evolution of General Motors' Epsilon II platform), which targets weight reduction and longer wheelbases.
This original input from the Holden team stretched from design and interior packaging, all the way through to engineering. It was also the Australian team that led the push for the V6 all-wheel-drive sport version.
The Commodore will land in Australia with two body styles, a hatchback sedan and a station wagon. Both variants will be offered with two engines — a four-cylinder petrol and a four-cylinder diesel, both 2.0 litres in capacity and both driving the front wheels. A third engine, the naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6, will be available on the all-wheel drive hatchback model (the SS Commodore replacement).
Our artist's impressions show how we expect the sport model and entry-level models to look. It features gaping holes at the front end for cooling and a sporty, low-slung design that will set it aside from others in traffic.
While an off-road station wagon hasn't been confirmed by Holden or Opel, we would expect it to go ahead, given the success of the Insignia Country Tourer - which is currently on sale in Europe as a high-riding version of the Insignia station wagon.
Powering the Insignia VXR (the yet-to-be-named SS Commodore replacement, which we'll refer to as the VXR from here) is a new version of Holden's current 3.6-litre V6 engine. It now features 230kW of power (up from 210kW) and 370Nm of torque (up from 350Nm) and is mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive system. It comes with active fuel management, which is expected to help reduce its fuel consumption, which currently sits at 9.3L/100km for the SV6 Commodore.
Codenamed LGX, the six-cylinder engine is the fourth-generation successor to the LLT and LFX. The LLT and LFX engines were used in Series I VE and Series II VE/Series I VF Commodores respectively.
The fourth-generation LGX picks up features like cylinder deactivation, stop-start, high flow cylinder heads and an acoustic engine cover, amongst others.
The all-wheel drive system is developed by German company GKN. The 'Twinster' system uses a dual-clutch arrangement with no differential. It allows the vehicle to perform torque vectoring without the use of traction control of speed limiters, which can often slow a vehicle, as opposed to improving cornering. The Twinster all-wheel drive system is also used in the Ford Focus RS, allowing the vehicle to aggressively send torque to the rear and delivering drift on demand.
While there were rumours of a twin-turbocharged V6 engine from Cadillac's range, the engine doesn't fit within the E2XX platform. The only high-powered engine available for this platform is a naturally-aspirated V6.
That's a shame, too, because the twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre V6 available to Holden and Opel produces 346kW of power and currently lives under the bonnet of the Cadillac ATS-V. That engine allows the ATS-V to sprint from 0-60mph in just 3.8 seconds. With the naturally aspirated engine, we expect the figure to be closer to six or seven seconds, given the fact it now routes torque through an all-wheel drive system, which inherently results in efficiency losses.
While non-VXR versions are expected to use conventional suspension setups, the VXR will be available with adaptive suspension that allows the vehicle to switch between comfort and sport modes.
Two four-cylinder versions will kick off the Commodore range. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine will drive the front wheels, while a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel will do the same. Holden is yet to confirm which gearbox will be mated to the four-cylinder versions of the Commodore.
Throughout its development program, Australia engineers have been involved in the design and development. Holden's lead dynamics engineer, Rob Trubiani, has also been involved in assisting with chassis development at the Nurburgring.
Locally, Holden shipped two test vehicles to tune ride and handling locally — an element that's incredibly crucial to the development of the vehicle. You can read more about this in our review of the 2018 Holden Commodore. One vehicle is a lift-back hatch, while the other is a lift-back simulating a station wagon. It uses two sets of weights (10kg on the rear window and 70kg within the spare tyre well), strategically positioned on the rear to simulate a station wagon's added weight.
Inside the cabin, Holden and Opel have gone to town on technology. While there's some elements we still can't talk about, we can mention that the car will feature an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (not confirmed if this is a wireless implementation), next-generation heads-up display and a central LCD display in the tachometer binnacle. There's also a full internal LED lighting package.
The heads-up display is huge and looks fantastic. We weren't able to configure the display in any great level of detail, but it had a rev counter similar to the current Commodore, and an active speed display. It's expected to also display navigation and safety information in addition to vehicle warnings.
It will also feature next-generation matrix LED headlights with 32 inner LED modules that offer up to 400m of range. This technology allows the car to sense other vehicles on the road and adjust the high-beam to ensure they are not dazzled. It's the same technology used in high-end models from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, amongst others.
Interior space is critically important for Holden — it's the Commodore's staple.
2018 Holden Commodore dimensions (compared to current Commodore):
Length: 4899mm (-74mm shorter)
Width: 1863mm (-36mm narrower)
Wheelbase: 2829mm (-86mm shorter)
Knee room: Identical to current Commodore
Head room: 952mm (-13mm less)
Shoulder room: 1444mm (-58mm less)
Hip room: 1410mm (-44mm less)
Cargo volume: Undisclosed, but expected to be larger due to hatch
Centreline: 375mm (-18mm less)
We had the opportunity to drive two '65 per cent' prototypes at Holden's top secret Lang Lang proving ground this week. You can see our review here. In the interim, these vehicles are about to hit the road for real world testing and calibration, so keep an eye out for them and their very clever camouflage.
What do you think of the 2018 Holden Commodore? Will the design and specifications stack up as a true Commodore replacement?
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