Holden says it wishes Kia best of luck as the Korean brand prepares to lure Commodore SS fans left without a rear-drive GT once local manufacturing ends later this year.
As we reported earlier this week from Detroit, Kia’s local chief Damien Meredith believes the gorgeous new rear-wheel drive Stinger GT with its 270kW twin-turbo V6 has what it takes to lure loyal Lion brand buyers.
The timing stacks up, with the Stinger’s September launch due just before the Holden plant outside of Adelaide shutters. Ditto the projected $50,000 to $55,000 price, which aligns with the SS and SS-V models.
As you can read in more detail here, Holden will replace the 6.2-litre V8 and 3.6-litre V6 Commodore range with a locally-tuned import from 2018, based on the Opel Insignia, with front-wheel drive 2.0-litre turbo-petrol and diesel options, and a 230kW AWD V6 flagship.
When we asked Holden’s Australia’s communications chief Sean Poppitt this week what the company thought about such an unexpected rival laying down the gauntlet, he diplomatically said “good luck to them”.
“Competition is a healthy thing and the car looks pretty good,” he admitted. “The proof will be in the pudding as to how it drives, particularly when you consider the current VFII is undoubtedly the best Commodore we’ve ever made in terms of being a driver’s car.
“Can the Kia live up to that? It remains to be seen.”
Here is where we’d add that Kia’s head of vehicle testing, ex-BMW M Division executive Albert Biermann, led the Stinger’s development at the feared Nurburgring in Germany.
“But I think what’s also pretty important to understand is the brand loyalty that exists with those people [Commodore SS buyers] isn't necessarily just about what the car is, it’s about what it represents and the brand it comes from,” Poppitt contended, though we’d suggest that this won’t exactly help the imported 2018 model.
“Then really when you look at sales, although V8s have increased in their penetration, it’s still over the last two years more than three-quarters of Commodore sales have been the V6, so really the main buyer is still the V6 buyer,” Poppitt added.
“And we will have a V6 AWD next-generation Commodore on sale from 2018. So I’d be willing to give the Stinger the Pepsi challenge with the next-generation Commodore any time, and I look forward to you guys putting it to the test.”