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Commodore HSV unlikely as SUVs take precedence

No go: The incoming ZB Commodore uses a 3.6-litre V6 that has been turbocharged by GM in the past, but not this time.

Unexpected ZB Commodore game change moves HSV on from traditional market

HSV logo12 Dec 2017

By TIM ROBSON

HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) has ruled out using the incoming Holden ZB Commodore as the basis of a modified sedan, leaning instead towards vehicles such as the Colorado pick-up.

Speaking with journalists at the launch of the HSV Colorado SportsCat in Queensland, HSV managing director Tim Jackson said that a power-up for the incoming imported ZB Commodore was not as obvious as first thought.

“The right solution hasn’t presented itself as yet,” he said. “So typically the next question, are you looking at it ... we’re always looking at different things but we haven’t gotten a solution on the (Commodore) yet.”

While HSV has marketed lightly modified models such as the Astra VXR in the past, its staple product since its launch in 1987 has been performance variants of Holden’s large four-door Commodore, which ended Australian production in October 2017.

Mr Jackson told GoAuto that plans had not really shifted for the company, despite the recent news that Opel products – which will build its Insignia sedan as a Commodore for Holden – could potentially be shifted onto architecture belonging to its new owners, PSA Group, by 2024.

“Nothing in particular has changed given the news on the car,” he told GoAuto.

He also confirmed that offering a Commodore in a similar vein to the SportsCat – which features suspension and ECU changes, along with enhanced exterior and interior elements – is not in the company’s plans.

“We don't have a solution (for modifying the Commodore),” he reiterated.

“That is not necessarily a product segment and a customer we’d look for that we felt we could have approached without a power up that would make us fairly nervous. So, were looking for that solution. We’re working on it, but we don’t have one at the moment,” he said.

On paper, the PSA Group plans appears to give the ZB Commodore a life cycle of approximately six years on the current architecture, although Mr Jackson suggests that might not be the case.

“I think there’s a assumption that the life cycle’s changing,” he said. “And I’m not sure that’s been necessarily committed or confirmed from Holden’s perspective.

“So, while obviously the PSA bit is out in the public domain, I’m not aware of anything that has changed their thinking in terms of the life cycle of the product.”

Recent comments from senior PSA Group officials lend weight to a case that the Insignia-based Commodore could be produced for Holden even after the Insignia has been moved over to a platform shared by Peugeot, Citroen and DS products – most likely the EMP2 chassis.

“We’re not concerned, because whenever you do a business case, we’re working closely with Holden. So, we’ve got a pretty good idea of how long the product is going to be in the marketplace before we start investing.”

Meanwhile, Mr Jackson confirmed that despite the similarities between the Colorado and the Trailblazer SUV, there were no plans for HSV to produce a SportsCat version of the seven-seat four-wheel-drive wagon that is based on the Colorado.

“Obviously, quite a few of the components that we’ve developed would carry over relatively simply,” he said. “There’s a fair bit of work to do in terms of how we connect the front end to the rear end of the car.

“In the back of our minds we thought that might be something we could pursue relatively cost-effectively, (but) there’s more work in it than might appear on the surface.”

The main issue appears to be related to the different rear suspension set-up on the Trailblazer, which eschews leaf springs for a softer, more passenger car-like coil spring arrangement. This would entail additional damper development and chassis computer recalibration.

Mr Jackson said that customers of the Trailblazer will not be able to build their own SportsCat, either.

“We’ll typically look to protect that value on behalf of people buying the SportsCat,” he said, adding that a VIN number is typically needed to order bespoke HSV parts like grilles.

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