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Exclusive: Holden Commodore to get pre-crash system

Next generation: The VF Commodore will have a number of safety and fuel saving improvements over the current model.

Crash warning system among high-tech features for VF Commodore and Chev SS

22 May 2012

A COLLISION warning system, blind-spot alert and keyless remote engine start are among the high-tech features set to make their Holden debut on the company’s new-generation VF Commodore and its American export offshoot, the Chevrolet SS, that are both due in showrooms next year.

Electric power-assisted steering and an electric parking brake are also included in the new Australian-developed large car that will carry the Commodore badge through to about 2018, and perhaps for the last time.

Lighter and more frugal than the current VE Commodore that was introduced in 2006, the VF will employ a host of fuel-saving measures, starting with a greater use of thin, high-strength steel.

Despite speculation that the new Commodore would use aluminium in its sheet-metal, GoAuto has been told that steel is being employed on the skin of camouflaged prototypes now roaming Victorian roads, in both left- and right-hand-drive forms.

GM Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux told the first Alternative Fuels Summit in Brisbane last year that GM Holden had targeted “mid-eights” fuel consumption for the VF, thanks partly to a federal government Green Car Innovation Fund co-investment grant of $39.8 million to develop methods to cut the car’s mass and aerodynamic drag.

Ultra-light plastic moulded door trims, a plastic spare wheel holder in the boot, revised suspension components and featherweight headlight assemblies are among a vast number of components redeveloped by engineers to help cut fuel economy by a minimum seven per cent while also improving performance of the new model.

The pre-crash system is probably GM’s Forward Collision Warning System that debuted on the GMC Terrain SUV in the US last year.

It uses a single digital camera mounted at the top of the windscreen and sophisticated computer algorithms to detect an imminent frontal crash and warn the driver.

13 center imageFrom top: A disguised VF Sportwagon and sedan Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux.

On the Commodore, it is expected to be standard equipment on upper-spec models, including the Chevrolet SS bound for North America in late 2013.

That system and the blind-spot warning device can be switched on and off by the press of a button on the steering wheel, which also carries audio and cruise control buttons.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel in stitched leather is expected in the sports models, such as the SS and SS-V, which will also get keyless entry and start.

Top models get a key fob with a button that can start the engine remotely – a system developed for the Caprice PPV (Police Patrol Vehicle) so police officers can start the car and thus the air-conditioning system when an arrested person is locked in the car.

A more conventional round plastic-finished steering wheel is destined for the lower models, which will also miss out on the keyless start.

Although powertrain options remain a closely guarded secret, an upgraded V6 engine line-up can be expected, with Holden possibly moving from the current 210kW 3.6-litre premium V6 engine now fitted to the SV6, to the latest LFX version of the GM V6.

This could be the V6 employed in the base model of the Caprice PPV that is made in Australia for North American law enforcement fleets.

Producing an extra 14kW of power (224kW) and an extra 9Nm of torque (359Nm), this V6 also saves more than 9kg in weight, thanks to integrated exhaust headers and a composite intake manifold.

Alternatively, Holden might go all the way to the Cadillac CTS’s 237kW/373Nm 3.6-litre V6, which is also part LFX family.

At some point, the V8 alternative is likely to be a variant of GM’s forthcoming Gen-V small-block V8 – an all-new engine family designed to improve fuel efficiency while increasing performance.

This engine will employ direct injection when its goes into production in North America in February.

Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions appear set to remain, with both options making it to the US market.

The Commodore’s interior is set to come in for a major overhaul, adopting a number of features such as switchgear from up-spec Chevrolet models such as the Australian-engineered Chevrolet Camaro.

Stitched dashboard surfaces – including what appears to be leather and a form of suede – give a Euro touch, while wood, satin aluminium, chrome and piano-black trim finishes will appear in various combinations across the range.

A large angled LCD screen will be embedded in the dash and worked by twist knobs located just below it. The screen will be corralled on each side by large vertical air vents.

The central console will be less cluttered than before, with a simple parking brake switch replacing the traditional handbrake lever, while the electric window switch cluster of the VE model will finally be moved to the doors.

LED mood lighting is placed above the front door handles and console, while the dials in the instrument binnacle are said to give off a combination of blue and red hues, depending on whether the car is at rest or being driven.

Top-end models are expected to get driving lights and LED daytime-running lights, while the rear light clusters appear to have a family resemblance to those on the Cruze sedan.

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