THINK the Holden Commodore’s switch from a locally made rear-drive large car to a Euro-sourced front- and all-wheel-drive mid-sizer means the name has cashed its last performance cheque?
One thing will be different, though – the next hot Commodore could be a hatchback.
As these spy images reveal, Holden’s parent company, General Motors, appears keen to ensure that the Opel Insignia – the Euro-designed and sourced car that will carry the Commodore name into its fully imported future – will have some of the driver-focussed growl to live up to the famous Aussie badge’s hard-earned reputation.
What can we tell from these fresh images, captured at the Nurburgring – the so-called Green Hell – that is fast becoming one of the toughest proving grounds around for performance cars?
Twin oval exhausts and wide, low-profile rubber front and rear hint that this could be the higher-end VXR performance model.
Wheels understands Holden was the driving force behind a push for a turbocharged V6 engine driving all four wheels.
One option is a tweaked version of the 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 in the current Insignia.
But the more likely option is the 298kW 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 revealed in a Cadillac in 2015 and set to spread its way across the GM world. That engine can be paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Along with the lighter weight of the slightly smaller Insignia (compared with today’s VF II Commodore) the extra ratios would help overcome the power deficit compared with the V8s that currently top the Holden performance range.
At the very least that 3.0-litre twin-turbo is expected to be used in an HSV, along with an exhaust with a suitable bark.
The next-gen Commodore will feature a longer – although still smaller than the current Commodore – and lighter four-door coupe styling that, in part, draws on the styling previewed by the wild 2013 Opel Monza shooting brake concept.
What else? While the sharkfin antenna is a feature that our homegrown version never adopted – the explanation being that it hurt radio reception – it could make it on the new model.
When it arrives here, the firebrand circa $60,000 Holden Commodore hot hatch is expected to hunt the likes of the next-generation Volkswagen CC – the car that broke the ground to made four-door coupes more affordable – due around the same time as the new Holden, and the Skoda Octavia RS.
Holden first hinted that it was considering an all-paw, hatchback future in 2002, spinning out the SSX concept (pictured above), a VY Commodore-based liftback featuring a wider all-wheel-drive track, pumped guards and a clever rear sliding drawer.
The carmaker again explored the hatchback sedan concept with 2004’s TT36 (pictured above), a mid-size five-door considered the spiritual successor to the Torana, but giving a preview of VE Commodore styling.