Corsa fails to add up

The high cost of Holden’s hot hatch makes it a no-go for this mar­ket, writes NEILMcDONALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AUS­TRALIA prob­a­bly won’t see a hot Euro­pean Corsa in the Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles line-up any time soon. The Corsa VXR has been as­sessed as a po­ten­tial starter be­low the tur­bocharged As­tra VXR, which is do­ing solid but unin­spir­ing num­bers for HSV, but has been dis­missed as too ex­pen­sive. It will be too costly to im­port and pre­pare for Aus­tralian duty, even though HSV boss Tom Walkin­shaw likes the car and sees the need to broaden the base for the hot Holden com­pany. ‘‘The prob­lem you have with Corsa is that to pro­duce cars in Europe is ex­pen­sive, so the core car ends up ex­pen­sive be­fore you start work­ing on it,’’ Walkin­shaw says. ‘‘It’s a nice lit­tle car, but whether you could ac­tu­ally work on it, then get it into that price en­ve­lope to get it into the mar­ket is still elud­ing us. We’ll look at other base prod­ucts avail­able in the GM net­work and de­cide if there are any we could work on that would be ap­pli­ca­ble to this mar­ket.’’ The Corsa VXR has a tur­bocharged 1.6-litre four-cylin­der en­gine that de­vel­ops 143kW and 260Nm, good enough to reach 100km/h in 6.8 sec­onds with a top of more than 220km/h. In Europe it com­petes against the Peu­geot 207 GT and Re­nault Clio Sport. HSV is look­ing to push the As­tra with a lim­ited-edi­tion model from Bri­tain, called the Nur­bur­gring, and will take its 2.0-litre turbo en­gine for use in a new Elfin sports car. But it can­not make a busi­ness case for the smaller Corsa. ‘‘The Corsa is a ter­rific sporty hot hatch, but be­cause Holden does not have that prod­uct range, the af­ter-sales sup­port or parts sup­ply, the busi­ness case is not as at­trac­tive. We’d have to do it our­selves,’’ HSV man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Scott Grant says. De­spite the Corsa fail­ure, Walkin­shaw says HSV is com­mit­ted to ex­pand­ing its range be­yond V8 Com­modores. ‘‘We’ll broaden the of­fer­ing over the next few years to cover more of the mar­ket,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s not pow­er­plant driven. It’s about get­ting younger peo­ple into our prod­ucts.’’ He draws a par­al­lel be­tween how HSV works with GM Holden and the op­er­a­tion of AMG and Mercedes-Benz. ‘‘We make the high-end per­for­mance pres­tige model in that brand and that’s what we will con­tinue to do,’’ he says. How­ever, chang­ing mar­ket forces also mean HSV will can­vas other four-cylin­der mod­els in the fu­ture and Grant says the As­tra VXR ex­pe­ri­ence had been good for the com­pany. ‘‘Eighty-one per cent of VXR cus­tomers have never bought a HSV car be­fore and half of them are fe­males,’’ he says. But Grant says there are still three re­quire­ments for a ve­hi­cle to join the HSV line-up. ‘‘It has to be com­ple­men­tary to Holden, it has to fit our brand DNA and, eco­nom­i­cally, it has to make sense.’’

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