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HSV eyes Corsa VXR

German GTI Jnr: Opel/Vauxhall Corsa VXR could be HSV’s key to securing younger buyers.

Hot German baby leads a number of Opel VXR models under assessment by HSV

23 May 2007

HOLDEN SPECIAL VEHICLES (HSV) has revealed that it is assessing the viability of importing the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa VXR into Australia.

The German-engineered, 225km/h, front-wheel drive three-door hot hatch rival to the likes of the Renault Clio Sport may lead a host of imports that HSV is looking at from Opel and elsewhere in General Motors’ global empire.

It is significant that HSV is considering cars that Holden has elected not to put into its showrooms, usually for cost-related reasons.

If it gets the green light, the Corsa VXR would slot underneath the $42,990 AH Astra VXR that HSV has been selling here since September last year.

“There are some European cars in the GM family that we are having a close look at in the smaller variety ... (and) I’m quite open in saying that the Corsa is one of those,” said HSV chairman John Crennan.

“We are assessing the business case for doing it. That’s an opportunity area.”

However, Mr Crennan was careful to stress that the baby HSV is still quite some time away from the showroom floor.

“We are a long way from doing it,” he underlined.

Mr Crennan also revealed that he does not intend HSV to be limited by the models that Holden elects to import.

“We don’t necessarily have to replicate the range that Holden are bringing in. We have other alternatives as well to broaden that portfolio.”

The hot-hatch version of General Motors’ fourth-generation Corsa light car has just been introduced across Europe, following its unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

It uses a turbocharged 1.6-litre twin-cam four-cylinder engine, to deliver around 141kW of power at 5850rpm and 260Nm of torque at 1980rpm.

In Vauxhall Corsa VXR guise in the UK, it races from 0-100km/h in just 7.2 seconds.

More startling for a potential HSV vehicle, the Opel returns a combined fuel figure of 7.4 litres per 100km.

20 center imageUnderneath, Opel revised the suspension springs and dampers, electric power steering settings and implemented revised stability control algorithms, which also affect the anti-lock brakes and traction controls.

The VXR has the extrovert looks associated with an HSV product, starting with 18-inch wheels, an in-your-face body kit featuring a deep front bumper/air dam combination, a triangular exhaust port set within a rear diffuser, a prominent grille design, a huge rear spoiler, racer-style side mirrors and integrated side skirts.

Among a host of airbag and comfort-related items are a flat-bottomed steering wheel, Recaro sports seats, classy piano-black trim and the usual lashings of silver metallic-look trim.

European press reaction to the Corsa VXR has been positive, placing the Corsa VXR in the same league (a first for a baby Opel) as the Clio, Mini Cooper S and the new Peugeot 207 GTI.

Corsa is the GM light car that Opel AG in Germany co-developed with Fiat (spawning the Punto released here last year). It was overlooked by Holden on cost grounds in favour of the ex-Daewoo Kalos-derived TK Barina from South Korea.

Holden imported the Corsa VXR’s direct predecessor into Australia as the Opel-made XC Barina SRi. That was a much more tepid car, however, as it was powered by a 92kW/165Nm 1.8-litre ECOTEC four-cylinder engine.

Mr Crennan told GoAuto that HSV is open to a wider range of go-faster Opels.

One of the more promising is the eventual VXR treatment that Opel is planning to give to its approaching medium-sized replacement for the boxy and unloved Vectra.

This car is a ground-up redesign that is expected to dispense with the long-running Vectra nameplate for something with less negative baggage Insignia is a possibility.

Holden has already committed to the Daewoo Magnus/Tosca-derived Epica from South Korea, so there is no chance for now that the new Opel will find it way into Holden’s showrooms.

Although this September’s Frankfurt motor show is the likely venue for the next Vectra/Insignia’s global debut, the VXR version is still thought to be at least a year away from a European launch.

So any HSV model that may eventuate is also potentially years away.

We also understand that a coupe derivation of this vehicle is in the pipeline for HSV to consider, as a belated replacement for the 1990s Opel Calibra that Holden sold here unsuccessfully during that time.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that HSV is working independently of Holden in import or export matters.

In the past HSV tended to commence overseas negotiations only after Holden had worked out its deal.

“We would be on the next plane out to them,” said Mr Crennan.

Today, Holden and HSV are said to operate on these matters as a team, as both companies leverage each other for maximum mutual gain.

“Now we are now working much more closely and in concert with Holden exports department on their activities.

“And it also makes sense for them to be able to roll out their range of products and include in initial stages an opportunity for HSV.”

HSV realises that a wider product range is needed to snare the increasingly more affluent younger buyers into its product range, and understands that offering worked-over European vehicles that are exclusive to it has broad appeal that can only benefit the brand.

“We are no longer restricted to being the V8 Car Company,” said HSV’s new managing director, Scott Grant.

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