Local boss throws down the gauntlet to die-hard fans

As the launch of Holden's first imported Commodore, the ZB, rolls around, the company's boss has challenged the Holden heartland to drive the car before they offer an opinion.

This week Holden hosts Australian media for a first drive of the ZB Commodore across a variety of roads and tracks at Holden's Lang Lang proving ground, but company boss, Mark Bernhard, wants fans to reserve judgement until they've had a go themselves.

"The nameplate synonymous with our heartland is Commodore. Few cars stir the emotion like Commodore does. Any car company around the world would love that passion," Bernhard said.

"We want to keep our loyal customers and we also want to attract more customers to our brand. There are plenty of strong opinions out there on how this car will perform. Will our heartland customers buy the next generation Commodore? I challenge any of them to drive the car and then have an opinion."

Holden understands the challenges it faces with selling this new model with the Commodore badge. But, it also understands the numbers behind the last Commodore and that an overwhelming majority of buyers weren't shopping for performance.

Around 30 per cent of VF Commodore sales were V8 with the remainder of buyers opting for V6 engines. This was the driver for ensuring a V6 was part of the ZB Commodore platform, a job driven into the program by Holden.

"No, it's not a rear-wheel drive, it comes in all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. It's not a V8, it comes with a V6 or an outstanding 2.0-litre turbo with a diesel option. We're not hiding behind any of that. But the fact is, it is a Commodore," he said.

"Space, performance, technology and sophistication. Exceptional driving performance, for Australian drivers and Australian conditions, honed by a globally talented team. Our heartland customers are going to be key to the future success of the brand, these are the people that have driven our cars for a lifetime and they wear it as a badge of honour.

Holden hangs high hopes on the success of the ZB Commodore. Will it win buyers over? Only time will tell. CarAdvice has had the chance to drive Holden's new range of Commodores, with drive impressions embargoed until February 15th. Come back then to read the full review.

In the interim, you can see what we thought during a development drive with a mix of ZB Commodores here.