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VX Commodore adds value

Subtle differences: The new Commodore SS has subtle interior and exterior styling changes.

Holden has pulled the wraps off its new VX Commodore, which gains a host of subtle enhancements over the hot-selling VT

Holden logo30 Aug 2000

By GAUTAM SHARMA

GREATER visual differentiation between models and better value for money through enhanced specification levels are the key ingredients to Holden's VX Commodore, which goes on sale in early October.

The newcomer also promises better active safety levels as a result of anti-lock brakes offered as standard across the range - a first for a locally produced sedan - while passive safety is enhanced by the incorporation of a new B-pillar that reduces the risk of head and chest injuries in side impacts.

A CD player and steering wheel-mounted audio controls are also introduced as standard features across the range.

Pricing rises by between one and two per cent across the range but the added cost is more than offset by the enhanced specification levels, introduced to combat the relatively well equipped Ford AU II Falcon.

The base model Commdore Executive retails for $28,900 with automatic transmission and air-conditioning adding $710 and $2130 respectively.

A Ford Falcon Forte equipped with these features costs less, but misses out on anti-lock brakes.

The range is topped by the V8 Calais, priced at $50,820. Although it uses the essentially the same sheetmetal and hardware as its predecessor, the VX Commodore gains enough detail refinements to qualify it as a genuine step forward.

The improvements are the result of a $70 million spend by Holden, half of this amount having gone into engineering.

"Our challenge was to take an extremely successful design and freshen it while retaining its huge appeal," Holden chairman and managing director Mr Peter Hanenberger said.

The VX has some big shoes to fill as the VT has been the most successful Commodore in history, with around 300,000 sales to its credit during the past three years - 40,000 of these in overseas markets.

Holden's executive director for sales and marketing, Mr Ross McKenzie, says the Commodore's sales success stems largely from its youthful, sporty appeal and strong residual values.

Mr McKenzie says Holden's policy of value-adding rather than discounting and the image building role carried out by HSV and the factory-backed racing team have served to strengthen Commodore's resale value and brand image to the point where it is has enjoyed an unprecedented run as the biggest-selling model for the past three years.

A lack of visual differentiation between low and high-spec models and inconsistent build quality were two criticisms levelled by some at the otherwise highly accomplished VT Commodore.

Holden insiders say both these issues were given much consideration in the VX.

Visual differentiation is no longer a problem but time will tell whether the quality control issues have been sorted.

There are now two different styles of headlights and tail-lights - previously the same items were used on all models.

Externally, the revised line-up features a trio of styling treatments in lieu of the homogenous look of the outgoing VT - the new Executive and Acclaim share their grille, headlights and tail-lights the S and SS gain sporty add-ons and the up-spec Berlina and Calais are similarly paired together.

Existing stocks of the VT are expected to run out in time for the launch of the new model. The 3500 Commodores being used for Olympic duties will be wholesaled to dealers who, in turn, will be able to sell them as low kilometre used cars with a short but interesting history.

Meanwhile, the Commodore's exports to the Middle East, New Zealand and Brazil will soon be supplemented by sales to South Africa.

Current exports number around 20,000 annually but Mr Hanenberger suggests this figure could eventually be bumped up to 50,000 cars once new markets - including Thailand and Indonesia - are tapped.

Commodore pricing: Executive sedan V6 manual $28,900
Executive sedan V6 auto $29,610
Executive sedan supercharged V6 auto $31,110
Executive sedan V8 manual $33,600
Executive sedan V8 auto $33,600
Executive wagon V6 manual $30,680
Executive wagon V6 auto $31,400
Executive wagon V8 manual $35,390
Executive wagon V8 autol $35,390
Acclaim sedan V6 auto $35,130
Acclaim sedan supercharged V6 auto $36,620
Acclaim wagon V6 auto $36,900
S pack V6 manual $34,530
S pack V6 auto $35,240
S pack supercharged V6 auto $36,730
SS V8 manual $45,290
SS V8 auto $45,290
Berlina sedan V6 auto $38,260
Berlina sedan supercharged V6 auto $39,750
Berlina sedan V8 auto $42,250
Berlina wagon V6 auto $40,960
Berlina wagon V8 auto $44,950
Calais V6 auto $46,830
Calais supercharged V6 auto $47,830
Calais V8 auto $50,820
For more reports on the VX Commodore - development, model by model, and drive impressions - go to Car Launches in this site

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