Cham­pion team v team of champs

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Showroom - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­

BADGE for badge and car for car, Ford beats Holden.

That sounds crazy when the red lion is so far ahead in sales but Holden’s suc­cess is all about the Com­modore.

It’s not just the car it­self, which is hand­ily the best Aus­tralian car of all time, but the halo it pro­vides for the rest of the range — from the baby Ba­rina Spark through to the heavy­weight Colorado.

Thou­sands of new-car shop­pers head to a Holden deal­er­ship be­cause of the con­fi­dence they get from the Com­modore. But if you kill the Com­modore, as Holden will in 2016, you breathe life back into Ford.

Right now, Holden is the cham­pion team but Ford has the team of cham­pi­ons. The blue oval brand’s Fi­esta, Fo­cus, Mon­deo, EcoSport, Ter­ri­tory and Ranger are so far ahead of their red lions ri­vals that it’s a non-event.

Ford also picks up the Mus­tang as its halo car in 2015 and it’s al­ready build­ing plenty of ex­cite­ment.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween the brands is that Ford Aus­tralia has tapped into a global de­vel­op­ment pro­gram that’s pro­duc­ing great cars and find­ing cost-ef­fec­tive fac­to­ries — as in Thai­land — to build them.

Holden is tak­ing its cars from Korea with min­i­mal lo­cal tweak­ing.

As Holden winds down its en­gi­neer­ing ef­forts and sells the Lang Lang prov­ing ground that’s been used to such great ef­fect for Aus­tralian de­vel­op­ment since the 1950s, things can only get worse.

Detroit prom­ises big things for the next gen­er­a­tion of Gen­eral Mo­tors cars — there are al­ready plenty of mid-sized In­signias in se­cret de­vel­op­ment in Mel­bourne.

But if the Cruze ex­pe­ri­ence is any in­di­ca­tion, it will take a lot more than prom­ises to pro­duce the long-term im­port suc­cess that Holden craves.

Even now, Holden is in trou­ble with cars that are good but not great.

The Captiva should be easy to rec­om­mend, and the Se­ries II up­date made a big dif­fer­ence, but it’s still not a Ter­ri­tory beater and is well be­hind the class lead­ers.

The Ba­rina is bet­ter than it was … but that wasn’t much.

Iron­i­cally, sal­va­tion for Holden could come from Opel, the Ger­man GM brand that was shut down less than a year into a stand-alone sales pro­gram in Aus­tralia.

It has the classy cars that Aus­tralians crave, pro­vided they can roll into Holden show­rooms at af­ford­able prices.

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