Kanga loser, Holden cars

Now for the Chi­nese-built Com­modore

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowling@news.com.au

THE Holden Com­modore of the fu­ture will be as Aus­tralian as the shirts on our backs: it will likely be made in China.

To gain ap­proval to de­velop a new Com­modore, Gen­eral Mo­tors did a top-se­cret deal with Holden to pair the next gen­er­a­tion sedan with a Buick that was orig­i­nally ex­clu­sive to the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Holden won the con­tract to de­sign the car, which was to be built in Aus­tralia and China.

A Holden spokesman says the man­u­fac­tur­ing source for the next- gen Com­modore has yet to be de­cided.

But now that Holden will shut its El­iz­a­beth car as­sem­bly line in 2017, China is poised to be­come the sole pro­ducer of the ve­hi­cle. Doc­u­ments ob­tained by Carsguide con­firm ev­ery Holden fan’s worst night­mare: the next Com­modore will be front-drive and pow­ered by a four-cylin­der en­gine.

Ev­ery top-sell­ing Holden since the birth of the com­pany in 1948 has been a six-cylin­der, rear-wheel-drive sedan.

The last time Holden sold a four-cylin­der Com­modore, in the early 1980s, sales tanked. The four-cylin­der Ford Fal­con re­leased last year also failed to boost sales, ac­count­ing for less than 10 per cent of de­liv­er­ies.

Holden in­sid­ers are now fight­ing for a V6 op­tion on the fu­ture Com­modore.

Why would Holden keep the Com­modore badge, given that the 2017 ver­sion bears no re­sem­blance to the mod­els be­fore it?

A Holden in­sider says: “It’s eas­ier to ex­plain to buy­ers that some­thing has changed about a car they know, than to say ‘Here’s the new Holden XYZ’.”

The 2017 Com­modore will lose its prac­ti­cal box-shaped body and in­stead take on sleek styling cues from Europe.

Sales of Euro­pean sedans have re­vived since the ve­hi­cles were restyled to look like four­door coupes.

The Holden in­sider says the new Com­modore will be al­most 5 me­tres long and al­most as wide as the cur­rent car, but it will look smaller be­cause of the low roofline.

“It’s about mak­ing sedans look cool again,” says another. “Audi’s done it, Mercedes has done it, now we’re go­ing to do it. It’s the only way to bring cus­tomers back to sedans.”

The shift away from con­ven­tional cars is so strong that, for the first time, the next Com­modore will have no wagon vari­ant.

One that got away: The next Com­modore is likely to be a Buick, built in China. Artist’s im­pres­sion: Martin Banks

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