A new HSV 'ZB' Commodore is not part of the local design and engineering division’s future product plan, the company has confirmed.
Holden Special Vehicles this week unveiled the Colorado SportsCat By HSV, and the dual-cab due in February is more indicative of the vehicle segments the company plans to go for viable business cases.
HSV boss Tim Jackson said the company was planning four to five new models by 2021, though the new Opel Insignia-based Holden Commodore arriving early 2018 isn’t currently a target.
Despite the VXR featuring a normally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 that opens up possibilities for forced induction, Jackson says a suitable business case has yet to present itself.
“If you kid yourself on the desirability of a product, it doesn’t matter what your business case is, it’s going to be wrong,” said Jackson. “We know with the history we’ve had working off that [Commodore] name, the expectations are reasonably high. Now those expectations may be tempered with pricing, what buyers are willing to pay, what is expected and what can be delivered.
“In this 4x4 space [with the Colorado SportsCat] we’ve got a level of comfort in what we’ve delivered is great value even without a power-up, and knowing how much a power-up would cost. We don’t necessarily have that with level of comfort on Commodore because of that history, and the nature of the buyer in that category…
“If buying into performance in that segment, [they] really want more power. If we don’t have a viable solution for [extra performance], that gives us pause [to commit to another Commodore].”
Above: the closest we'll come to a performance model in the new Commodore range is the naturally-aspirated V6 VXR.
The buyer swing away from large cars that killed the Australian-made Commodore doesn’t help the case for an HSV version. The company says it needs to focus on segments that are growing and offer opportunities for vehicles enhanced for a premium price.
That would make SUVs a no-brainer, as Jackson admits.
“For our future products, we think we need to have an SUV in there.”
Jackson wouldn’t elaborate on the preferred donor vehicle among Holden’s revised range of sports utility vehicles.
The Trailblazer might be considered an obvious candidate as it is closely related to the Colorado ute, though differences include a rear suspension featuring multi-links rather than leaf springs.
HSV is also investigating the potential for a proper high-performance dual-cab, though there are engineering and financial obstacles that mean it’s unlikely to emerge any time soon, if at all.
Above: the new Holden Colorado SportsCat By HSV
Jackson says dual-cab utes do suit HSV’s approach and brand.
“That [4x4 ute] segment is becoming more premium, expectations from customers are going up,” he said. “The SportsCat is such a cool, versatile product for a typically male demographic. It’s a status, image product. It says a lot about who they are.
“Part of our interest in segments is, does it portray an image that logically fits with us (HSV).
“Down the track, in a few years’ time, there may be space – if you look at the Ford [F-150] Raptor in the US – for something that’s more out there performance-wise. And here, Ford are going to do a Raptor version of Ranger.”
Where the SportsCat by HSV is about improving both on-road and off-road capability, and also boosting the Colorado name in Australia in an ultra-competitive segment, HSV says a dual-cab that is a fully branded HSV would come with compromises.
“To give it a different characteristic to what we have here [with SportsCat], you might lose a couple of elements such as off-road ability, or its payload.
“We’ve taken the SportsCat almost as far as we can go, to meet the expectations of an all-round vehicle. To go another level, you're going to get compromises, and you do narrow your audience a bit.
“To get the driving characteristics [we would want], a petrol variant might be a better option [than diesel], but that’s one of the compromises for someone using it as a workhorse and wants fuel efficiency.”
A high-performance ute could potentially wear a Walkinshaw badge – from the Walkinshaw Group that runs HSV. Such a move would give the company more flexibility compared an HSV-branded model that needs significant involvement and approval from Holden/General Motors.
The company is in the process of moving to newer and larger premises in Victoria, expanding its workforce to about 250. It has also been engaged by Holden to engineer the Chevrolet Camaro sports car and Chevrolet Silverado full-size ute for right-hand-drive in Australia. They both go on sale in 2018.
The Holden Colorado SportsCat by HSV is due to go on sale in February 2018, with a price tag expected to start in the low-to-mid $60,000 bracket.