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Driven: Holden banks on Equinox sales success

Night and day: The Equinox effectively replaces the discontinued Captiva 5 in Holden’s line-up and will face a number of established competitors.

All-new Equinox mid-size SUV to be one of Holden’s top sellers


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28 Nov 2017

GM HOLDEN is confident its all-new Equinox mid-size SUV launched this week will become one of the lion brand’s top-selling models, while acknowledging the challenges the company faces in breaking back into the vital segment to battle strong-selling, well-established rivals.

The Mexican-sourced, five-seat SUV hits showrooms early next month, and marks a shift in Holden’s transition to a full-line importer as the first model launched following the closure of its Australian manufacturing operations almost six weeks ago.

Post-closure, Holden expects to spread its sales out evenly between light-commercial vehicles (30 per cent) and SUVs and passenger cars (35 per cent apiece), avoiding a reliance on just one model – as has been the case with Commodore in the past.

Holden director of communications Sean Poppitt told GoAuto that the Equinox would be among the car-maker’s best-selling models once the full range arrives by late January.

“You can’t discount the strength of Colorado,” he said at the Equinox launch on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast this week. “That segment is exploding and continues to do so. But will this (Equinox) be one of our best sellers? Yes, absolutely.

“I am always reticent to talk specific volumes, particularly as we have got a little bit of a staggered start. The diesel comes in the first month of the year, then we roll straight into next-gen Commodore, so we are launching some pretty impressive products.

“I wouldn’t want to talk about a monthly run rate, but I would say it is going to absolutely be in our top three sellers.”

Holden says between 3000 and 4000 people registered their interest in the Equinox leading up to the launch, and Mr Poppitt said the company should sell about 1000 cars in its first month on sale, which would put in in the top half of the segment.

The Equinox takes the place of the Captiva 5 that was discontinued early last year. The new model will be sold alongside the ageing three-row Captiva that will continue until the Acadia seven-seater lobs late next year.

Mr Poppitt said the company was aware of the challenge in launching a new nameplate into a hot segment – mid-size SUVs are the second-biggest market segment in Australia – but Holden had anticipated this and acted early with marketing activities.

“Holden recognition is usually the very least of our problems. We usually index 25 or 30 per cent above competitors for brand recognition, but that is the opposite challenge here for Equinox,” he said.

“It is a completely new nameplate, so it is going to take some very clever marketing. And it is why we have had such a long lead campaign we have been out in the market doing things at a communications and marketing level for three to four months.”

Mr Poppitt described getting through the factory closure as a “watershed moment” for the company and that Holden staff and fans were ready to move on to the next phase of the brand, with Equinox leading the charge.

“I think it (the factory closure) has actually brought some energy internally and externally,” he said. “We have seen this momentum. And it reminded us to be proud of what Holden is and stands for.

“The great thing is, Equinox is another ‘no excuses’ product, which we couldn’t always say. But in recent times, everything we have launched has been in the top one, top two, maybe top three of its respective segment. It has probably been two decades since Holden could say we have got the best product line-up we have had in two decades.”

As previously reported, the Equinox will be offered in five model grades and three powertrains, including a diesel in January that is available in all grades except the base LS. Pricing is yet to be announced for the diesel versions.

The base LS with the 1.5-litre petrol engine and a six-speed manual kicks the range off at $27,990 plus on-road costs, undercutting the price of entry for most of its mainstream rivals including the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester, Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, VW Tiguan and Mitsubishi Outlander.

A six-speed auto adds $2000 to LS, bringing it to $29,990, while the LS+, which uses the same powertrain but is only offered with an auto, is priced at $32,990.

Mid-spec LT and all higher grades swap out the 1.5 for a 2.0-litre unit paired with a nine-speed auto that will soon be found in the next-generation Commodore due early next year, with the LT priced at $36,990.

The LTZ is $39,990 in front-wheel-drive guise, but opting for the adaptive all-wheel-drive system adds $4300 to the price, while the flagship LTZ-V has AWD as standard and is priced at $46,290.

Only LTZ and LTZ-V get the option of AWD and the LS is the sole manual offering.

Under the bonnet of the LS is a Euro 5-compliant 1.5-litre turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engine producing 127kW at 5600rpm and 275Nm at 2000-4000rpm, offering fuel economy of 6.9 litres per 100km on regular unleaded petrol and CO2 emissions of 160g/km.

The LS weighs between 1514 and 1526kg and has a braked towing capacity of 1500kg, with trailer sway control fitted standard.

LT, LTZ and LTZ-V versions gain the Euro 5 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol unit delivering 188kW at 5500rpm and 353Nm at 2500-4500rpm, ensuring a fuel consumption figure of 8.2L/100km (on premium unleaded) for the front-driver (8.4L/100km for AWD) and CO2 emissions of 191-196g/km.

The 2.0-litre variants range in weight from 1585-1732kg and have braked towing capacity of 2000kg.

The Euro 6 1.6-litre turbo-diesel pumps out 100kW at 3000-4000rpm and 320Nm at 2000-3000rpm. Models range in weight from 1593-1778kg, but fuel use figures have not yet been disclosed.

Holden has not confirmed 0-100km/h times for the Equinox but it said the 2.0-litre versions would be in the low 7.0s.

The Equinox is 4652mm long, 1843mm wide and between 1661mm and 1697mm tall, depending on the variant, with a 2725mm wheelbase.

Luggage capacity is 846 litres to the roofline with all seats upright, increasing to 1798 litres with the 60:40 split fold second row folded.

Equinox was developed in the United States – where it is sold with Chevrolet badges – and sourced from Mexico, but Holden engineers worked at the Lang Lang proving ground and in the US to develop unique Australian suspension hardware, damper and electric power steering tune.

It has a MacPherson strut suspension setup at the front, while the rear is a four-link independent system.

The Equinox has unique front and rear sway bars, front handling bush, front ride bush and rear lower control arm bushes, which Holden says helps ensure a more engaging driving experience and ensure “trademark Holden handing”.

The turning circle ranges from 11.4 to 12.7 metres depending on wheel size, and there are 321mm-diameter ventilated disc brakes up front and 288mm solid discs at the back.

Standard kit from LS up includes automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights, 7.0-inch colour touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, six airbags, a reversing camera and 17-inch alloy wheels, while automatic versions gain ‘active noise cancellation’.

The LS+ adds a number of safety features as part of the Holden Eye forward-facing camera system, which includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, following distance indicator, a forward collision alert with head-up warning and a safety alert driver’s seat that vibrates to warn of a potential hazard.

Other extra gear at this grade includes a blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high beam, a leather-clad steering wheel and power-folding side mirrors.

The LT grade adds an 8.0-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, heated front seats, front parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, HID headlights and 18-inch wheels.

In LTZ grade, buyers also get a hands-free power tailgate, automatic perpendicular and parallel parking, automatic wipers, wireless phone charging, heated rear seats, digital radio, roof rails, Bose sound system, LED head- and tail-lights, power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-appointed seats and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Finally, the LTZ-V gains a heated steering wheel, dual-panel panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable passenger seat and cooled front seats.

A Summit White exterior colour is standard, with Glory Red, Blue Steel, Son of a Gun Grey, Nitrate Silver, Pepperdust and Tuxedo Black premium colours attracting a $550 price premium.

Holden is offering the Equinox with a seven-year/175,000km warranty until the end of the year.

2017 Holden Equinox pricing*
LS FWD$27,990
LS FWD (a)$29,990
LS+ FWD (a)$32,990
LT FWD (a)$36,990
LTZ FWD (a)$39,990
LTZ AWD (a)$44,290
LTZ-V AWD (a)$46,290
*Excludes on-road costs

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