1 Sep 1991
The front-wheel drive YE Calibra was to the Holden Vectra what the Toyota Celica has been (at times) to the Toyota Camry – a sporty two-door version of a popular mid-sized family car.
Developed by General Motors’ Opel and Vauxhall in Europe, the stunningly aerodynamic Calibra three-door hatchback shared no exterior body panels with its donor car, the 1988-1995 Opel Vectra.
Interestingly, unlike its predecessor (the 1982-1989 JB-JE Holden Camira) and its successor (the 1997-2002 JR-JS Holden Vectra), Australians never saw this generation Vectra.
So its mundane Vectra-derived cabin, disappointingly sedan-like dynamics and (Holden-sourced) 2.0-litre Family II four-cylinder engines didn’t put off buyers locally.
The latter came in two guises – an 85kW/170Nm single cam for four-speed automatic Calibras, and a 110kW/196Nm twin-cam 16-valve unit for the five-speed manual models.
But despite keen pricing, beautiful styling, good space for four adults and a long features list that included anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning, alloy wheels, central locking, a sunroof, power steering and electric windows, the Calibra failed to lure sports car buyers, especially as it was released just as the recession was biting hard in Australia.
In mid-’94, the release of a 150kW/280Nm turbocharged all-wheel drive flagship model – featuring a six-speed manual only gearbox, upgraded brakes, a driver’s airbag, leather trim and a body kit – failed to address disappointing sales.
At the same time a standard driver’s airbag, seat belt pretensioners, new-look alloy wheels and minor changes to cabin trim marked the ’94 series Calibra range.