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Still room to boom, says HSV
Holden’s raid on Opel performance models welcomed by HSV
2 May 2014
By BARRY PARK
HOLDEN Special Vehicles says it will take on whatever challenges Holden throws at it – even if its parent company snares the pick of performance models to add allure its own showrooms.
Holden announced yesterday that it would take three Opel models, including highly-strung performance versions of the Astra and Insignia, for its own from next year as it builds its showroom strength ahead of the end of local manufacturing in 2017.
However, while HSV managing director Tim Jackson told GoAuto he could not be specific about what plans the tuning arm had when its Commodore-based, V8-engined feedstock switches off in a couple of years, it would not baulk at the challenge.
“Our job is as it has always been – deliver an exciting and differentiated product,” he said.
“Holden is always raising the bar as it should, and we are always challenged with delivering more.” GM International Operations president Stefan Jacoby said yesterday that HSV could potentially roll out even more potent versions of the Astra GTC and firebrand VXR, and the V6-engined Insignia GTC that will join Holden showrooms from early next year.
Holden’s rebadged Opels are expected to sell in fairly small volumes while fulfilling the role of stirring up interest in the brand.
HSV sold a previous version of the European-made Opel Astra VXR, rebadged as the HSV VXR, for several years until 2009. However, at the time the vehicle cost from $42,900 – a significant sum for a three-door hatchback even if it was fitted with a 177kW/320Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplant.
Mr Jackson has previously described the foray into four-cylinder engines as “moderately successful” for HSV.
Holden is speculated to be strategically introducing the hi-po versions of the Astra small car and Insignia mid-size sedan and wagon as it winds down production of the Cruze small-car in Australia and paves the way for the regular Astra range to fill the high-volume void left by the loss of the strong-selling Commodore large car range.
Holden executive director of corporate affairs George Svigos said the Astra name still resonated strongly with Australians, despite the Holden-badged car disappearing from the market in 2009 and Opel’s aborted attempt last year to trade on the resonance with buyers.
The reintroduced Astra VXR – it was previously sold under the Opel badge as a $42,990 OPC – will use a 206kW turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, and is expected to be priced from below $40,000 when it arrives early next year wearing the Holden Lion.
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