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Sydney show: Holden reveals Monaro

Return of a legend: The only thing retro about this car is the name, says Holden

Holden delivers its cyber-age baby

11 Oct 2001

HOLDEN'S 21st century Monaro, the most anticipated new car of the year, was unveiled at the Sydney motor show this morning.

The ceremony completed a gestation period which began when the shroud was lifted off the Holden VT Commodore-based coupe concept car in front of a stunned audience at Darling Harbour just three years ago.

Using advanced simultaneous math-based process (smbp) computer technology, a new $6 million "virtual reality" design studio and some of the best young design and engineering brains within its Fishermens Bend headquarters, Holden has brought the Monaro from design freeze to the brink of production in an incredible 22 months for just $60 million.

And apart from unique front and rear-end styling, a 20mm higher ride height and the replacement of 20-inch wheels for more sensible road-going items, Monaro remains measure-for-measure very close to the original concept.

Holden is hailing the Monaro development process as a technology breakthrough. It says the only retro thing about this car is its name, which harks back to the original HK of 1968.

Thirty-three years on and Holden's latest Monaro is to be sold in two variants - the CV6 powered by the supercharged 3.8-litre V6, and the CV8, with power provided by the Gen III 5.7-litre V8.

The CV6 is a four-speed automatic only, the CV8 available with either six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

Pricing is better than expected, set at $47,990 for the CV6 and $56,990 for the CV8 in manual and automatic forms.

Equipment levels are high for the money, including alloy wheels (17-inch on CV6 and 18-inch on CV8), chromed exhaust, projector headlights, black leather trim, eight-way power front seats, cruise control, trip computer, CD audio system (10-stacker in the CV8) and air-conditioning (dual zone climate control in the CV8).

There are seven exterior paint finishes, three of them exclusive to Monaro. Go for the CV8 and you can option one of four leather trims to match the exterior colour. Holden says the CV8 will claim 80 per cent of all Monaro sales, with 70 per cent of those buyers opting for the automatic version.

In its first full year on sale, Holden forecasts selling 4000 units, and with sales not due to start until December there are already 600 bona fide orders.

But as is typical of all coupes, the prediction is that sales will fall away quite dramatically after 12 months. That means there is no guarantee the Monaro coupe will survive as a long-term model.

In this respect it potentially may ape the original Monaro coupe, which bowed out after eight years on sale.

"We'll sell many thousands in the first year," predicted Holden large car marketing manager John Elsworth. "But you can halve sales every year after that.

"I think you'll find the car has a limited lifespan. Our view is you would probably cease production before the public does it for you." That may sound entirely too pragmatic considering the hype that already surrounds this car, and which will accelerate as Holden gets its marketing program into full swing over the next couple of months.

But the fact remains this car is very much identifiably a Commodore despite the unique sheetmetal from the A-pillar back. It's also very much based on Commodore in engineering terms too.

It has two less doors, seats four rather than five and is more expensive in base model form than even the hi-po SS sports sedan.

In the long-term the return of the Monaro may not be as significant as the computing process that got it there. After all, if you can build one niche car in record time with miniscule expense (on a world scale), why not many more? "Responsiveness to market opportunities is critical to Holden's ongoing success," said Holden chairman and managing director Peter Hanenberger. "Our team was able to bring the new Monaro to market in record time by taking advantage of advanced math and computer-led design.

"The technology, which would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, is increasing Holden's ability to compete with the best in the world in terms of interpreting the latest market trends and producing vehicles with timely and popular appeal." Twenty-five years ago in his first Australian stint, Mr Hanenberger taught Holdens to handle and triggered a hardware revolution in the local car industry.

It is appropriate then that he is at the forefront of what shapes as a software revolution.

  • There's much more on Monaro in our free automotive e-news special edition, published this morning. To download it, go to www.mellor.net, click on "Automotive e-news" and then on the e-news thumbnail. And make sure you subscribe to e-news for your weekly dose of the latest Aussie and international auto news. Next Monday read our giant Sydney show A-Z coverage.

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