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More Holden V8 sportscar details emerge

Alpha mail: It is looking increasingly unlikely that the Camaro will come to Australia, but a V8-powered rear-drive sportscar that will be sold here may borrow its underpinnings.

V8 Holden sportscar could roll on Alpha platform but mysterious concept ruled out

11 Mar 2016

HOLDEN remains committed to offering a rear-drive V8-powered sportscar to rival the Ford Mustang in Australia, and while the vehicle in question is still shrouded in secrecy, General Motors’ Alpha platform could be at the heart of the development program.

While a curious and never-released Holden-designed Alpha concept – the existence of which was unearthed by GoAuto last month – might have evolved into a global sportscar had the cards fallen differently, General Motors International Operations design vice-president Michael Simcoe this week confirmed that the mystery vehicle had been archived, reinforcing the veil of secrecy.

However, the aluminium-intensive Alpha platform that has gone on to underpin the new Chevrolet Camaro, various Cadillac models and the recently revealed Buick Avista concept remains a key question – and one that Holden’s vehicle development manager Jeremy Tassone has this week kept open as the possible basis for the lion brand’s future sportscar.

Asked by GoAuto whether the forthcoming Holden sportscar would roll on the Alpha platform, Mr Tassone confirmed that it is “a possibility”.

“Yes, we’ve said we will have a rear-wheel-drive sportscar, that’s what was announced,” he said. “Alpha would be one of many vehicles that that could be. Is it Alpha? I can’t say.

“It’s a global rear-wheel-drive platform. That would be one of multiple options.” GM has all but ruled out right-hand-drive production for the current sixth-generation Camaro, which is only a year into its current lifecycle and will not be replaced until around the middle of next decade.

That has led some pundits to suggest the Corvette – built on a unique platform in its current C7 guise but likely to move to new underpinnings with C8 due at the end of the decade – is the most likely candidate, although the iconic supermodel would surely not be in line for rebadging.

Questions marks also surround the production potential of the stunning Avista concept, which was unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January but almost immediately had its prospects as a potential Holden Monaro replacement downplayed by senior management.

Holden has not gone on record to say the sportscar will be a direct competitor to the hugely popular Ford Mustang, but Mr Simcoe told GoAuto a rival for the pony car “would be nice”.

“The brand, because of what Holden represents to Australia, needs to be holistic and it needs to have, ideally, an entry in every segment,” he said. “We will perhaps eventually.” GoAuto discovered the existence of the phantom Alpha concept during a rare tour of Holden’s design centre last month, but Mr Simcoe explained that the car was a pitch for a new variant following the internal announcement that the Alpha platform was coming.

However, while the platform did become a reality, the Alpha concept car was put to bed.

“You take a base architecture and you try and get as many variants off it to maximise the use, and that was just one pitch we thought would work for us – not just for Australia, it was a global entry,” Mr Simcoe said.

“It was an internal concept once the architecture existed and the Camaro was being done and we had a package for it so we offered up an alternative, which didn’t ever go anywhere, therefore we don’t talk about it.

“I can’t tell you what it was, but it was another variant of that architecture.” Whether elements of the stillborn concept will make it into the design of the forthcoming sportscar may never be known outside GM’s design studios.

Mr Simcoe praised the Camaro for its effect on the brand in left-hand-drive markets and said he believed it was the finer car compared with the Mustang.

But when reminded that the Camaro was not available for Australia, he responded: “we’re working on that”.

“The Camaro, as it sits today, looks more efficient than a Mustang. I think we’ve got the better of the two vehicles,” he said.

It was previously understood that Australia’s engineering development team had no involvement with the latest Camaro – the previous version of which was based on the Australian-designed Zeta platform – but Mr Tassone revealed that a small part of the iconic car did see red dirt, in addition to a more extensive sedan project.

“There was some minor stuff that we did early on in architectural suspension components. Just a few little bits and pieces, nothing major,” he said.

“We did some work on the Alpha sedan. We did 12 months engineering work back two or three years ago, so we’ve been involved with Alpha.”

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