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Holden to take Commodore upmarket

Class act: The Opel Insignia will push back against the lower end versions of European premium cars in Europe.

European market premium push could see Holden Commodore take on C-Class

10 Mar 2017


HOLDEN’S new-generation German-built Commodore could be targeted at entry-level mid-size European models as well as traditional mainstream rivals when it hits Australian shores early next year.

With the Opel Insignia-based Commodore set to move down a segment and compete in the sub-$60,000 mid-size class rather than among traditional large cars, the vehicle will go head-to-head with the likes of Ford’s Mondeo, Kia’s Optima, Hyundai’s i40 and Sonata and the Mazda6.

But if the European positioning of the Opel Insignia is anything to go by, the Commodore could push into more premium territory occupied by the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb cousins and entry versions of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

Speaking to journalists at the Geneva motor show this week, Opel vice-president of design Mark Adams said in Europe the brand – which has just been bought by France’s PSA Group (parent of Peugeot, Citroen and DS) – was pushing back against traditional luxury marques that were moving down into mainstream territory with their base-model cars.

“Our key role, trying to balance this car, we have had the premium brands coming down into our space for a long time now and we felt that this is a car that we need to sort of push back a bit,” Mr Adams said this week on the Geneva show stand, where the Insignia made its public debut.

“Why do we always take it that they are coming into our space? And we think we have a car that projects that aura of premium-ness at a much better value proposition. So as long as you are not a brand snob, you can find a better balance there.

“We felt that was important and fitted with what Holden needed to do as well.”

Depending on pricing, specification and overall positioning which will be revealed closer to the imported Commodore’s 2018 launch, it could be shopped against base-variant Europeans that start from between $55,000 and $60,000, depending on the model.

Mr Adams said while the outgoing Insignia is competitive against its mainstream rivals, such as the Mondeo, the new model will compete well against the more traditional premium fare.

“We know we can do great products, so we want to fight back a bit and this is a great vehicle that can do that. There will be other things we think we can stand tall on and we don’t need to worry in that context. In this particular segment, you do need to worry about that because the premium executive cars play a big role in that space so we need to be able to perform in that,” he said.

“Today’s car (current-generation Insignia), against its normal competition, we do extremely well in the UK and places like that. So we think this car will allow us to push back even harder and that fits very nicely with what needs to happen in Australia, too.”

Mr Adams said there was a synergy between the requirements of the different markets that will take the Insignia-based car.

“When trying to piece together the different needs from different regions, a lot of it is very consistent in what it is trying to achieve,” he said.

“Yes, you have got to tune it differently to suit certain customer needs but at the same time as long as the majority of the toolbox is consistent, that can be a great role it can play for everyone.”

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