THE NEXT Holden Commodore is being designed right now, in Germany, by an Australian.
Niels Loeb, an Aussie from Sydney’s northern beaches and also Opel’s exterior design director, is currently penning the next-generation Opel Insignia – the car widely tipped to replace the locally made Commodore when it ceases production in 2017.
Holden is also influencing the car. Its local design team, spearheaded by Richard Ferlazzo, is in constant communication about the next Insignia’s architecture and design.
“Look, I can’t confirm future products, but what I can say is the new Insignia is going to be even better looking than the current car (pictured),” said Loeb.
“Opel is about to have a lot more relevance for Australia and it’s a good story because Opel has always been appreciated in Australia for good contemporary design with European flavour. I believe we’re looking at making up 30 percent of Holden’s lineup, so if we can bring some European flair, that can only be a good thing.”
Loeb wouldn’t reveal any details about the next Insignia’s design, except to say it will draw heavily on the Opel Monza concept, revealed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. He also claims the quality of its materials and finish will rival that of Audi and BMW.
“Opel’s in a rejuvenation phase as the moment and what I can say is the Monza show car has had a big influence,” said Loeb. “You don’t’ see it in the our new models now because they were completed earlier, but Monza will definitely be influencing a lot of our production stuff from next year on.”
Loeb also confirmed the next Insignia, will have a distinct Aussie influence.
“Richard [Ferlazzo] and his team have definitely been involved,” he said. “They do sketches and clay models and have added an Australian style which is more muscular, more in your face, more Aussie. European cars are traditionally taller, where Aussie cars are wider and lower and I think that’s where the market is going.”
Due in 2016, the new-generation Insignia is a crucial model for GM, given it’s also sold in the US and China as the Buick Regal.
“The mid-sized segment is really tricky at the moment with a lot of competition,” said Loeb. “So you really need to make a car that’s going to make a big visual statement and that’s our intention with the next Insignia. It needs to compete against Audis and BMWs visually and in terms of its quality.”