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Hope remains for reborn Holden Torana

Familiar hue: Chevrolet has repainted the Code 130R coupe concept from its original red to a hue reminiscent of Holden’s Perfect Blue, used on some Australian-built performance models.

GM still studying RWD Chevrolet Code 130R coupe concept as a production prospect

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Holden logo4 Apr 2013

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

GENERAL MOTORS has reignited hope that it could eventually produce a compact rear-drive coupe based on the Chevrolet Code 130R concept unveiled at the 2012 Detroit motor show.

Speaking exclusively with GoAuto at the New York motor show last week, GM executive chief engineer for luxury and rear wheel drive cars, David Leone, revealed “there is hope” a car based on the 130R could reach production.

“I think there’s opportunity there ... it’s just not ready for prime-time yet,” he said, adding that GM continues to study the possibility of a production Code 130R.

The concept’s reappearance at the recent Bangkok motor show – still wearing what looks like Holden’s Perfect Blue paintwork as it did at the 2012 Paris show – demonstrates GM’s continued assessment of public reaction.

“It really appealed to the younger folks,” said Mr Leone. “That wasn’t lost on us and we see that opportunity in a place where we could expand the brand.” At the time of its unveiling in January last year, speculation was rife that the Code 130R – based on GM’s global Alpha rear-drive platform shared with the Cadillac ATS – could form the basis of a re-born Holden Torana.

In an interview with Wheels last year, Holden-based GM executive director of international operations Mike Simcoe expressed enthusiasm for the Code 130R and was amenable to it reviving the Torana nameplate.

“Would I like to have a compact rear-wheel-drive performance coupe like that in any portfolio? Yes … in essence it’s doing the same thing Torana did all those years ago.” The boxy Code 130R is one half of a Chevrolet concept coupe offensive, the other being the sleeker, front-drive Tru 140S shown alongside at both Detroit and Bangkok.

Of the two, Mr Leone believed the rear-drive Code 130R “has greater opportunity to expand the brand”.

“We have good-looking coupes today but this I think would take us to another level,” he said.

Mr Leone agreed a production Code 130R would provide GM with an ideal product to take advantage of the growing downsizing trend towards compact premium vehicles such as the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

“Size doesn’t have to be proportionate to price,” he said.

Such a vehicle could also give GM a competitor to successful budget sportscars such as the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins.

But Mr Leone reiterated the packaging and efficiency advantages of front-wheel drive and pointed to the success of the front-drive Mercedes-Benz A-Class as an example of rear-drive no longer being a premium buyer prerequisite.

GM insiders at the New York show revealed some design aspects of the Code 130R will translate to the next-generation Cruze small car.

The next-generation Chevrolet Camaro muscle-car is expected to migrate from the Holden-developed Zeta platform to the Alpha underpinnings used by the Code 130R and will receive four-cylinder power at entry level, leading to speculation that the concept actually previews the next Camaro.

Under the Code 130R concept’s bonnet is a 110kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine similar to that used on the Australian-built Holden Cruze, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

For efficiency, the engine features regenerative braking, idle-stop and smoothed torque delivery.

The Tru 140S, based on the Delta II platform also used to underpin the Cruze and Volt, uses the same drivetrain but transverse-mounted to drive the front wheels.

GM says it wants the two concepts to encourage the next generation of buyers to suggest ideas for a car they can co-create – and for this reasons the interiors have not been developed beyond a 2D design.

Frank Saucedo, director of GM’s North America Advanced Design studio in Los Angeles, said keeping the interior designs in 2D “allows us the flexibility to continue the discussion and encourage more dialogue as we continue to develop these concepts”.

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