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Holden to build on VXR sub-brand

Brand builder: Is Holden’s first V6 turbo AWD sedan a peek into next-gen Commodore SV6 replacement?

VXR performance portfolio to grow but it won't replace HSV: Holden

29 Jun 2015

GM HOLDEN’S Opel-sourced Insignia VXR is shaping up as a long-term replacement for the sportier versions of the Australian-made VF Commodore once production ceases with local manufacturing in 2017.

While there has been no announcement on which GM model will be imported as the next-generation Commodore, the introduction this month of the German-built Insignia VXR is about building on Holden’s long-running SV6 and SS V8 legacy with the sporty VXR sub-brand.

However, the company has stressed that the VXR will not be taking over from Holden Special Vehicles as the company's high-performance marque.

Speaking with GoAuto at the launch of the Insignia VXR in New Zealand last week, Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley suggested that the VXR sub-brand will be ramped up as the more performance-focussed versions of different models in the future.

These could stretch from the next-generation Barina which is rumoured to be based on the Opel Corsa, and include future versions of the recently released Astra VXR.

“No we don’t see it as an HSV replacement,” Mr Keley said. “VXR is a performance sub-brand that will become much bigger over time, as part of Holden’s portfolio. But it won’t replace HSV.

“The two can exist side by side. HSV and SSV today live side-by-side. And it’s the same with HSV and VXR. But I cannot comment on what HSV is doing because it is HSV’s business."With the just-released Insignia relatively late in the current-generation GA series’ model cycle (the Opel original was launched in mid-2008 in Europe), Holden itself admits that it has invested heavily in bringing the VXR version alone specifically to establish the sub-brand in Australia for the future.

Also speaking at the launch, Holden communications director Sean Poppitt said that “… (the Insignia VXR) is as much about brand as it is about sales.”

It is believed that the next Insignia VXR will ditch the existing Holden-made 239kW/435Nm 2.8-litre V6 turbo for a smaller-displacement but higher-output four-cylinder-based engine if this is the case, VXR rather than SV6 would make a more suitable designation.

Several GM models other than the next-generation Insignia are shaping up as the VF Commodore replacement, including the Opel’s fraternal twin, the new Chevrolet Malibu that was unveiled at April’s New York motor show, and the latter’s larger Chevrolet Impala spin-off. All are built off GM’s new E2XX front-drive/AWD and transverse engine architecture.

Speculation also suggests that a rear-drive Cadillac platform set to underpin the CT6 large sedan could also form the basis of the next Commodore.

Holden is believed to be looking at global GM performance cars to help boost the brand’s post-VF sporting credentials, and while the new-gen Chevrolet Camaro is rumoured to be under consideration for Australia, it is still only slated for left-hand-drive production.

Finally, as GoAuto revealed in May, Opel has applied for the trademark of the classic Monza nameplate in this country, hot on the heels of the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show concept car of the same name.

What is clear is that Holden will not abandon the performance space it has so successfully cultivated with generations of Commodore SV6s and SSs. Watch this space.

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