Holden turns up the heat

A po­ten­tial se­cret weapon has been caught in camo in the high coun­try

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - News - Twit­ter: @JoshuaDowl­ing JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR joshua.dowling@news.com.au

HOLDEN is on the road to re­cov­ery af­ter post­ing a record $553 mil­lion loss for 2013 as sales fell to a 20-year low.

Ea­gle-eyed Cars­guide read­ers have snapped Holden test­ing a se­cret new model likely to be added to its small­car line-up.

The cam­ou­flaged car was spotted on the NSW and Vic­to­rian Alps by read­ers from both states.

It’s a re-nosed ver­sion of the Opel Corsa OPC hot hatch — which is yet to be re­leased in Europe, thus the dis­guise.

Wear­ing Vic­to­rian num­ber­plates and steered by Holden en­gi­neers, the hatch is un­der­stood to be here for de­vel­op­ment and val­i­da­tion work for the Gen­eral Mo­tors Euro­pean di­vi­sion.

But Cars­guide un­der­stands the test­ing also will give Holden en­gi­neers valu­able time be­hind the wheel to rec­om­mend any changes for lo­cal con­di­tions.

Last week Holden an­nounced it was go­ing to im­port the Cas­cada con­vert­ible, the medium-sized In­signia sedan and some three-door ver­sions of the new As­tra.

Holden also ended spec­u­la­tion about the fu­ture of its his­toric test track at Lang Lang — on which ev­ery Holden since 1958 has been de­vel­oped — say­ing it would keep its sa­cred site to test fu­ture im­ports.

These pho­tos show that Gen­eral Mo­tors is se­ri­ous about keep­ing an en­gi­neer­ing hub at Holden, and that it’s not afraid to ven­ture on to pub­lic roads for real-world test­ing.

Holden is yet to an­nounce whether the Corsa OPC will be in­tro­duced lo­cally. How­ever it would round out Holden’s range, as the Ba­rina RS is more of a warm hatch than a true ri­val to the Ford Fi­esta ST, Peu­geot 208 GTI, Re­nault Clio RS and Volk­swa­gen Polo GTI.

A more di­verse model range is part of Holden’s am­bi­tious plan to over­take Toy­ota as the No.1 brand by 2020.

Cur­rently sell­ing a lit­tle over half the tally of mar­ket leading Toy­ota, Holden last led the mar­ket 11 years ago. But the lo­cal com­pany is now search­ing the Gen­eral Mo­tors world to boost its model range and re­ju­ve­nate show­rooms.

High hopes: Opel Corsa OPC be­ing tested in the Vic­to­rian Alps (above) and the cur­rent Euro­pean ver­sion

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