The Chevrolet Camaro will be converted to right-hand drive by HSV, giving Holden a response to Australia’s best-selling sports car.
HSV this week confirmed long-running rumours that the Camaro would bring its rivalry with the Mustang from America to local showrooms, giving Holden fans a V8 option following the demise of the home-grown Commodore in the process.
The Chevrolet Camaro 2SS coupe has been selected for conversion, and will be on sale from July 2018. The 2SS sits one step down from the flagship ZL1 Camaro, which was also considered for Australia.
The supercharged V8, however, was ruled out because of the cost involved in meeting local emissions regulations.
The 2SS is powered by a 6.2-litre direct injection V8 with 340kW and 615Nm, although, for our market, those figures are only indicative at this stage. It’s teamed with an eight-speed automatic with paddle-shifters, while HSV also hopes to offer a six-speed manual.
Performance suspension is accompanied by four-piston Brembo brakes front and rear, and power is put to the road through a limited-slip rear differential. The car rides on 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear tyres measuring 245/40ZR20 (front) and 275/35ZR20 (rear).
Key equipment highlights include leather-trimmed bucket front seats with heating and ventilation, dual-zone climate control, LED daytime running lights, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
HSV hasn't confirmed pricing yet, but acknowledges the Camaro won't be priced to compete with the 306kW/530Nm Mustang – which starts from $57,490 as a six-speed manual, or from $59,990 as a six-speed auto.
The Chevrolet Camaro 2SS is expected to start closer to $90,000, and HSV isn’t expecting to outsell the Mustang. Where Ford is set to sell more than 9000 units of its iconic sports car in Australia this year, HSV has built a business case based on shifting about 1000 Camaros per year.
It will be cheaper, however, than the right-hand-drive Camaro conversions that have previously been offered by Queensland’s Performax International and other conversion companies – usually well above $100,000.
HSV has traditionally added extra performance to vehicles – usually the Commodore – during its history, but the Camaro is a pure conversion project, much like the Silverado full-size ute coming down under.
“Our job is not to enhance the Camaro. Our job is to switch the wheel without you noticing,” said HSV boss, Tim Jackson.
Holden executive director of marketing, Mark Harland, joined the HSV announcement, arguing the Chevrolet bow-tie was the only appropriate badge for the Camaro's shapely nose.
He also insisted it wasn’t part of a General Motors plan to replace the Holden name in Australia.
“It’s going to be marketed as a Chevy, we can’t put a Holden badge on it,” said Harland of the Camaro. “The Camaro and Silverado are iconic Chevrolet products, and you’ll see the Chevy logo in HSV/Holden dealerships.
“Holden is here to stay. Chevrolet plays a role for the rear-wheel drive, V8 enthusiast – it brings that into the Holden family. There’s no plan to change that [Holden] branding at all.
“HSV is going into its next frontier. Holden needs a proven partner to bring RHD capability.”
It will be a belated arrival for the Camaro. The previous fifth-generation model – developed by Holden and based on the VE Commodore’s Zeta architecture – was set to be imported here towards the end of the last decade before the global financial crisis hit GM.
The sixth-generation Camaro sits on the GM Alpha platform. The next-generation Camaro, due around 2022, will be factory built in both left- and right-hand drive.
Holden is expected to take direct control of importing that Camaro, along with the next-generation (C8) Chevrolet Corvette sports car which, from next year, will become a global model like the Mustang. The Corvette is switching from a front- to mid-engine layout.
The Chevrolet Camaro will be distributed through the HSV dealer network.