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VE owes much to Holden's Torana concept

Freeze frame: VE sedan design was locked in almost 18 months before the appearance of Holden's Torana concept, which previewed many of its styling cues.

Torana concept previewed more of Holden's VE Commodore design than many realised

19 Jul 2006

IF YOU think the new VE Commodore looks suspiciously like the Torana TT36 concept car, you’d be close. Holden "froze" the design in May 2003, well before the show car made its debut at the Sydney motor show in October 2004.

Like many car-makers, Holden used the Torana to showcase VE elements, with a number of styling cues cut straight from the VE mould.

The Torana’s strongly defined front and rear wheel arches, deep grille, rising waistline, blacked-out glasshouse and latch door handles owe a lot to VE.

GM Holden design director Tony Stolfo said the VE represented a quantum change in thinking at the company, with about 170 design staff amassing more than 520,000 hours over six years to create the new short- and long-wheelbase range.

The designers were set a task to deliver a sedan that offered performance, style, quality, safety and features – all at a value price.

Mr Stolfo said the validation of each part of the VE was harder than the VT program back in the mid-1990s.

"We found ourselves balancing proportions against safety, minimising exterior size but maximising interior spaciousness, offering flexibility and personalisation without adding complexity and cost, balancing material cost without compromising on quality, balancing size against mass and balancing style against aerodynamics," he said.

One of the few things deemed acceptable and carried over from the VZ was the interior packaging.

"Customers were happy with the space so we concentrated on improving quality and giving the interior a distinct up-market feel across the range," he said.

Visually, all VE models gain the signature mudguard vents with in-built indicator lights, which leads along the car’s flanks into the rising shoulder line, but there is strong style differentiation between the Omega, Berlina, SV6, SS and Calais.

Compared to the VZ, the VE has a higher belt-line with a smaller glasshouse, and from the front the car looks smaller due to the increased track and pronounced wheel-arches. The rear pillar is distinguished by a more defined "hockey stick" shape to the rear door glass.

The base Omega gains 16-inch steel wheels, minimal bright work on the exterior, a simple grille with dominant Holden lion emblem and a serviceable dark cloth interior. A full-size spare is optional across the range - $100 on the Omega and $250 on the rest.

13 center imageLeft: Holden Torana TT36 Concept.

Without an Accent, the mid-series Berlina raises the bar with a chrome grille, foglights, 17-inch alloys, body-coloured mirrors, bright door-surround mouldings, fluted tail-lights, a single chrome exhaust surround on the V6 and quad-chrome exhausts on the V8.

The Calais builds on the Berlina features with different 17-inch alloys, projector-style headlights with black bezels, chrome grille with diamond cross-hatch grille texture, body-colour bumpers with a strip of chrome, and a full-width lower air intake incorporating the foglights and smoked tail-lights. The Calais V adds more chrome work along the bottom of the doors, 18-inch alloys and a chrome boot release.

The SV6 and SS offer sports grilles with honeycomb textures, 18-inch twin five-spoke alloys, a bodykit, rear bootlid spoilers, dual chrome exhausts on the SV6 and quad-chrome exhausts on the SS. The SS-V adds 19-inch alloys (20-inchers are optional), hi-tech tail-lights and a larger boot spoiler.

The VE’s chief exterior designer Richard Felazzo, best known for his work on the EFIJY concept, said that despite each model’s distinct look the car’s overall proportions remained sharp.

"Proportion is the foundation of good design, and the VE’s proportions looked good from any angle," he said. "It’s a mature design that exploits the benefits of a large rear-wheel drive platform." Meanwhile, Mr Stolfo said the VE’s design guidelines were clear: push the wheels out, lengthen the wheelbase, have minimal overhangs. Also important was designing a car that would give customers a bigger choice across the range.

"We designed it for greater flexibility," he said. "We wanted to personalise every model with three distinct personalities across the range." The "personalities" are divided into the Omega-Berlina, Calais and SV6-SS models and are more apparent in the cabin (see next page). Externally, the range provides two headlight styles, three grilles, four rear light clusters, three rear bumpers and two rear spoilers on the standard range.

At 4894mm long, the VE is 18mm longer than the VZ with a wheelbase of 2915mm, 126mm longer than the previous car. The front overhang has been reduced 90mm while the front wheels have been pushed forward 67mm.

Such is the tight under-bonnet space that the battery has been moved to the boot, behind the left rear wheel. The rear overhang has also been trimmed 18mm while the rear wheels have been pushed back 59mm.

The exterior colour palette consists of 13 choices with seven new colours: Ignition (bright red/orange), Evoke (smoky metallic grey), Sandstorm (neutral satin gold), Provence (glacial blue metallic), Red Passion (rich metallic red), Nickel (dark silver) and Crema (buttery liquid gold).

VE EXTERIOR: AT A GLANCE
Overall length: 4894mm
Height 1476mm
Width (ex-mirrors) 1899mm
Wheelbase 2915mm
Front overhang 846mm
Rear overhang 1133mm
Seven new colours

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