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Smaller siblings for hottest Holdens

Pocket rocket: GM Opel's Corsa could come here as an HSV.

HSV eyes Corsa and Insignia VXRs - and maybe even Holden's homegrown 2010 Cruze

HSV logo23 Dec 2008

HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) says it will introduce new mid-sized and small models, potentially including the Cruze-based global GM model that will be built by Holden in Australia from 2010, as long as the price is right.

The muscle-car brand is currently negotiating with General Motors in Europe to bring hot versions of the new Corsa hatch (formerly known as the Barina here) and Insignia (which replaces the discontinued Vectra) to Australia.

HSV currently imports the Astra VXR from Europe and sells it alongside its Commodore and Statesman-based locally-produced cars.

It is not yet clear whether HSV would consider producing a hot version of the front-drive small car that Holden will build at its Elizabeth plant within two years. Such a move would depend on whether the Australian-made car is quick enough.

HSV managing director Phil Harding has made it clear that his company will consider any model, no matter the size, as long as it meets key brand pillars including the fitment of a high-performance engine, a matching chassis and a unique look.

Mr Harding revealed HSV wants to import a hot version of the Corsa, GM Europe's smallest hatch, which employs a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder to produce 143kW.

The Corsa is the next-generation version of GM Europe's light car, which used to be sold in Australia as the Barina before Holden started sourcing the nameplate from GM Daewoo in South Korea.

HSV is also keen on the soon-to-be-released Insignia VXR, which is expected to be powered by a twin-turbocharged petrol V6 belting out more than 215kW.

The business cases for both the Corsa and Insignia are made more difficult by the fact that Holden doesn’t import standard versions of the cars.

 center imageFor example, Holden does sell the Astra here and also brings in most of the parts. Therefore HSV doesn’t have to bring in many spares except for some VXR-specific items.

In the case of the Corsa and Insignia (left), HSV would have to bring in all the parts and provide all the service training and support.

“The challenge is that we have to support the complete parts gap (range) for spares and servicing, whereas if you ride on the back of what Holden is doing you only have to do the incremental,” Mr Harding said.

“We have been talking about it a lot, but it is a big decision to make.”

Mr Harding said the Corsa business case would be approved if HSV could source the car for the right price.

“We have to see a number less than $30,000,” he said.

The high performance Insignia is more likely to be seen on Australian roads, because a higher price will allow for a more attractive profit margin.

“That price point is a little more relaxed. It is a very good car but it should sell for less than a Clubby (ClubSport) - probably around mid-$50,000,” Mr Harding said.

“We are just evaluating with our networks to see whether there is a group of customers around that price who would like to buy it.”

Mr Harding said the Astra VXR has performed well in Australia, with sales of between 80 and 100 a year proving the HSV brand should not necessarily be limited to including large V8s.

“We never expected it to take over from the large-car volumes - we expected those kinds of numbers.”

He said the Astra, despite being the only front-drive and non-V8 model in the range, had not damaged the HSV brand.

“No-one has challenged me in this country as to whether an HSV badge should have gone on an Astra VXR. Everyone who has driven it and owned it believes that is a car worthy of our badge,” he said.

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