WE’VE been here before – 38 years ago in fact – only this time it’s different. Very different. Not only have we been given unprecedented access to a new-generation Holden Commodore still more than a year away from Holden showrooms, but it’s a totally different proposition.
What was the rear-drive V-car (GM’s global large car of the ‘70s), derived from its Opel Rekord/Omega/Senator cousins across three generations until Australia went it alone with the VE Commodore in 2006, has been brought back into the fold as a transverse-engined front- and all-wheel-drive sedan or wagon. It represents the merging of two size classes – the ever-expanding medium segment and the once-dominant but near-dead large-car class – into a fitter, more efficient, future-proofed form designed to extend the Commodore nameplate well into the 2020s.
Promising not only the most powerful base-model Commodore variant in history, as well as a highly dynamic all-wheel-drive range-topper ready to tackle the Skoda Superb 206TSI 4x4 and Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line, Holden’s next-gen flagship will offer a level of driver-assist and passenger-comfort features intended to match the best Europe and Japan can offer.
Indeed, Holden and Opel’s aim for the Holden Commodore/Opel Insignia is to deliver best-in-class dynamics and a true ‘driver’s car’ benchmark for the medium and upper-medium segment.
And this is no badge-engineering exercise. Holden has been involved virtually from the get-go and much of what we’ll see in early 2018 has been heavily influenced by the needs of Australians who choose to refute the onslaught of the SUV.
That said, the next Commodore’s E2XX platform is all-wheel-drive ready and intended to underpin a range of forthcoming GM vehicles globally.
The European Insignia will also offer all-wheel-drive with the turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel fours that will power our entry-level and mid-range Commodore variants, so there’s a chance, too, that a diesel all-wheel drive may add even more European flavour to Holden’s line-up.
It’s been over 40 years since Holden’s engineers first took Opel Rekord/Commodore prototypes to Wilpena Pound and virtually broke them, leading to the near-indestructible VB Commodore of 1978. Back then, a European-looking design, interior package, and first-class dynamics was enough to overcome the VB’s carry-over, all-iron pushrod sixes and relative lack of efficiency.
No such forgiveness today. Holden’s next-gen Commodore needs to be a knockout if it’s going to comfortably carry the Aussie-family-car blueprint into the future.