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Twin-turbo temptation for Holden

Pimped and pumped: The special one-off Camaro for US TV star Jay Leno is powered by a twin-turbo version of the V6 that hauls Holden's Commodore.

Stonking 317kW V6 revealed in US concept Camaro by Chevrolet in Las Vegas

Chevrolet logo4 Nov 2009


GENERAL Motors has unveiled a 317kW twin-turbo concept version of its high-feature global 3.6-litre V6 that would be the answer to Holden’s prayers for a Commodore competitor to Ford’s strong-selling Falcon XR6 Turbo and G6E Turbo.

With the same power as Holden Special Vehicle’s Corvette-sourced 6.2-litre LS2 V8 and the fuel economy of a direct-injection six, the force-fed engine was revealed by Chevrolet in a buffed one-off Camaro for American talk-show host and car nut Jay Leno at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) exhibition – the biggest aftermarket show in the world – in Las Vegas this week.

Although both the car and the engine are said to be just concepts, they are both official GM productions, displayed on the official Chevrolet stand among a flock of five Camaro special editions, giving rise to hopes that the engine, at least, might go into production.

Holden already makes a high-performance 239kW turbocharged 2.8-litre version of the global V6 engine at its Port Melbourne engine plant for export to GM partner companies Opel, Vauxhall and Saab, as well as Alfa Romeo, but so far it has employed only normally-aspirated engines in its current VE Commodore V6 models.

137 center imageLeft: Chev concept Camaros: The Jay Leno, the Synergy and the Chroma.

The most powerful of these is the recently updated 3.6-litre SIDI (Spark-Ignition Direct-Injection) engine producing 210kW of power and 350Nm of torque – short of the 270kW/533Nm of the locally-developed 4.0-litre in-line turbo six under the bonnet of the Ford Falcon G6E and XR6 Turbo.

The Holden 3.6 engine is the same GM V6 powerplant as fitted to low-end Camaros in North America – and the basis for the twin-turbo concept engine on show at SEMA. The Camaro also sits on the same Holden-developed rear-drive platform as the Commodore, meaning there would be few problems transplanting the warmed-over V6 into the Aussie car.

Officially, Holden says it knows nothing about the engine in relation to the Commodore, but privately, one company insider said such an engine would be the answer to a Holden prayer.

Although Holden’s Commodore has Ford well covered in most areas, including V8 offerings, Ford’s strong-selling turbo sixes go unanswered in the showroom by Holden and its high-performance partner, Holden Special Vehicles (HSV).

Interestingly, HSV has sent two representatives to SEMA this week to check out the latest developments in the go-fast world.

If they wander by the Chevrolet stand they will see the ‘Camaro Jay Leno’ – a ‘race-ready’ Camaro with pair of Turbonetics T-3 turbochargers on its V6 engine, blowing through a custom air-to-air intercooler.

Chevrolet says the turbos increase power by 40 per cent, while there is “virtually no penalty” in fuel economy over a non-turbocharged 3.6-litre engine.

“The powertrain was designed to deliver consistent, controllable power for both the street and race track,” Chevrolet says. “In fact, road racing was a primary mission for the car during its development.”

A bigger radiator, custom exhaust system and stronger clutch have been added to the Camaro, which runs a six-speed manual transmission.

A Brembo six-piston brake package and a lower, stiffer suspension complete the performance package.

Brake cooling vents in the front fascia, air-extractor-style bonnet and a ground-effects aerodynamics package with a rear diffuser betray the car’s high-performance intent.

The Jay Leno Camaro is the most radical of the five Chev coupes dressed by GM’s designers for SEMA to show off new or proposed accessories and graphics packages.

In addition to the Camaro contingent, Chevrolet is also showing a Silverado ZR2 pick-up concept and an accessorised Corvette Grand Sport.

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