Matter of great import
AUSTRALIA, your new Holden Commodore is almost ready. These are the first official images of the German model that will wear the iconic Commodore badge when it arrives in local showrooms in 2018.
Earlier this week the Commodore was accidentally laid bare after its sister car was caught on camera by a spy photographer during an advertising shoot in a busy street in the US.
The black sedan and grey wagon wore Opel badges and had German numberplates but the only difference between these cars and what we will know as a “Commodore” is the badge.
There is, however, a world of difference between the new Commodore and the old one.
Gone is the V8 that accounts for more than one-third of sales. Coming is a choice of four-cylinder petrol and diesel front-drive power, and a flagship V6 all-wheel drive.
Performance enthusiasts be warned: there is no turbo V6 (the turbochargers won’t fit under the bonnet apparently) and Holden Special Vehicles is unlikely to fill that performance void for the same reasons.
Where current Commodore V8 buyers will migrate is yet to be seen but chances are it won’t be a Holden showroom.
Instead, Holden is targeting families and fleets seeking a sedan with the convenience of a hatch.
Unlike any previous Commodore, the import is a five-door hatchback — just like the Ford Mondeo it competes with in Europe.
The radical departure from a sedan body is designed to appeal to SUV buyers who want flexible cargo carrying ability.
To further broaden its appeal — and respond to the increasing presence of luxury brands in the mid-size sedan segment — the new Commodore will be loaded with technology.
Top-end models will be available with “matrix” LED headlights that turn night into day without dazzling oncoming cars, as well as automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.
Other luxuries on dearer models include massage and ventilated seats, 360-degree camera and electronic roadnoise cancellation.
The interior of the new Commodore looks like a larger version of the latest Holden Astra — both were designed by Opel in Germany — including a new Audi-style digital instrument display.
To distinguish the Opel Insignia and the Holden Commodore version of the same car, the badges will differ.
In every other regard they are identical, which no doubt will light up internet forums again.
When Holden gave the media a sneak preview drive and confirmed the Commodore name in October, Holden fans fired up over the use of the historic badge.
Most pleaded with Holden to retire the name, as Ford did with the Falcon.
The next-generation Commodore is just 3cm wider and 4cm longer than a Toyota Camry — and much smaller than the homegrown Holden it replaces.
However, some Holden enthusiasts on social media could see past the badge.
A well-placed Holden insider has told Carsguide the main reason the company stuck with the Commodore name was: “It’s easier to tell people something’s changed about the Commodore, than ‘here is the new XYZ’.”
The insider said “Commodore” is instantly recognisable and Holden doesn’t need to waste money advertising a new name.
For its part Holden insists there are no plans to reverse the decision and retire the Commodore name.
Using the Commodore name on the Insignia is akin to Ford using the Falcon badge on its Mondeo mid-size sedan.
But Ford says such a move was never even considered ... and weighs in further.
“We wanted to retire our nameplate with some dignity and respect,” says Ford Australia boss Graeme Whickman.
“(Ford fans) would have been unhappy if we would ever put that name on a vehicle that didn’t live up to the legacy or the history the (Falcon) has.”
Asked whether Holden should have retired the Commodore name for the imported model, he says: “At the end of the day, whether it was the right thing or the wrong thing to do will be (decided) by customer response.”
The Ford boss reckons the
2018 Holden Commodore: Computer-generated images