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Pontiac Gets Australian Holden Commodore as G8

Three years ago, Jim Hall and I were in Adelaide, South Australia. We were actually on AutoPacific business and unfortunately it was in the middle of the American summer, which meant it was the middle of the Australian winter. Chilly. Anyway, that’s beside the point.
Good Iron Down Under – From Both General Motors/Holden and Ford
This brief trip down under confirmed what I knew academically from reading about Australian vehicles. They are really cool! Both Ford and General Motors have very competent rear wheel drive platforms in Australia that would do very well in the USA. A brief visit to the local Holden dealership had us both lusting after a Holden Commodore. And that was the previous generation Commodore. In July 2006, Holden launched the all new VE Commodore. More lust.

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GM tried to import the Holden Monaro as the Pontiac GTO. The car failed because it wasn’t flashy enough and didn’t have the necessary DNA to be a believable GTO. Great car to drive, not ugly, just not head-turning.
GM to Add Holden Commodore to Pontiac Lineup as G8
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Now, we may have chance to get the object of our desires. GM appears to be ready to announce that it will begin importing the Holden Commodore 4-door sedan as the Pontiac G8. This car would replace the front wheel drive Grand Prix and maybe reach upwards to fill the spot vacated by the front wheel drive Pontiac Bonneville. Rear wheel drive and powered by a V8 engine, the Commodore would cap a newly sporting Pontiac lineup. We can’t wait.
Ford to Use Australian Falcon as Basis for RWD V8 Sedans?
Across Detroit in Dearborn a similar strategy is hatching. Apparently, Ford is considering using the rear wheel drive V8-powered Australian Falcon as the basis for the “Mustang-based” Lincoln MKR. If Ford can find the resources, we may also see the Ford Interceptor concept car based on the Falcon platform.
Ah, those Australians!

You might be interested in Holden’s Press Release when the Commodore was launched in July 2006:
All-New Holden Commodore Unveiled To The World
Fourth generation of Australia’s best-selling car range revealed
July 15, 2006: Holden today unveiled the all-new Holden Commodore range, designed and engineered to extend a decade-long record as Australia’s best selling car.
The 2006 VE Commodore is Australia’s first $1 billion car program and the most homegrown development project in almost 60 years of Holden vehicle production.
The fourth generation Commodore is much safer, offers more technology and delivers more features and value than ever before.
Interiors, exteriors and major mechanical features have been totally redesigned or upgraded, representing the most clean-sheet car program in Holden history.
Holden spent more than six years planning and developing the new Commodore, the first generational change since the multiple award-winning VT Commodore was launched in 1997.
Holden launched the Commodore in 1978 and has built 2.4 million Commodores for sale in Australia and export markets around the world.
Holden’s sports performance hero SS model and prestige leader Calais were chosen to debut VE Commodore at an event in Melbourne.
The all-new WM series Statesman and Caprice flagship models, representing Australia’s most successful locally designed export cars last year, were also shown in an historic double reveal.
Commodore’s design theme is enabled by an increased wheelbase which moves the wheels closer to the car’s corners, delivering a powerful European-styled stance on the road.
The launch comes 75 years after Holden became part of the world’s largest automotive company, General Motors. It is also 150 years since the original Holden saddlery business, which grew to be today’s GM Holden, opened in Adelaide.
GM Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Denny Mooney, today said VE Commodore was designed to excite buyers about Australian cars and enhance Holden’s future as the largest automotive manufacturer in the country.
Mr Mooney said General Motors had invested more than $6 billion in Australia over the past decade, including VE, to protect Commodore’s market-leading position.
The VE program totalled $1.04 billion and the WM Statesman and Caprice program $190 million, taking the combined cost to $1.23 billion.
Mr Mooney said VE Commodore had potential for GM markets around the world, having been engineered from a global architecture for left-hand-drive requirements such as the Middle East.
He said VE offered striking design, performance and refinement able to compete with the world’s best car brands.
“VE Commodore delivers ultimate value to the Australian buyer. Its design is comparable to anything in the world and we made major advances in refinement and quality,” Mr Mooney said.
“Our targets have been some of the most expensive and most carefully crafted cars around the world and this careful consideration of global expectations is what should make this car work.
“We pored over every panel, the tiniest of details to place this car right up there in terms of refinement, quality and performance.”
Mr Mooney said safety was a key factor in the new vehicle, with the acclaimed crash avoidance technology Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) standard and curtain airbags available on the entire VE sedan range.
“The chassis is designed to accommodate a range of active and passive safety technologies as well as the crashworthiness expected in many different markets,” he said.
“We have used more super-strength and high-strength steels than ever before in Commodore’s structure. Real world crash performance was a huge priority throughout its development.”
Mr Mooney announced a revised model line-up for the new range, including a new name to Holden, Omega, to replace Executive and Acclaim.
“We are also adding extra class with the introduction of a new concept, the V Series, to highlight our top-of-the-line offerings. This will commence with the SS V and Calais V,” he said.
“The peak power of our advanced Alloytec V6 engines, made right here in Australia , will move up to 180 and 195 kilowatts respectively.
“ The six-litre V8 will stamp its authority with peak power and torque of 270 kilowatts and 530 Newton metres which will really deliver the performance Holden buyers know and love.
“We will introduce a new six-speed automatic transmission for V8 models, sharing it with GM’s premium cars such as Cadillacs and the Chevrolet Corvette.
“We have introduced all-new front and rear suspension systems to provide outstanding handling without sacrificing ride comfort. The car’s microprocessing capability has more than doubled and allows us to provide new levels of safety and user-friendly features.”
Mr Mooney said recent market changes and external factors such as fuel prices were best countered by ensuring locally built vehicles were able to mix with the world’s best.
“The Australian car industry has a strong future while it continues to make globally competitive cars such as VE Commodore,” he said.
“We’re proud of what we have achieved with the all-new Commodore. We know Australians still enjoy large cars and we know they want safety, roominess and style in their cars.”
The Holden VE Commodore range will go on sale in August 2006. Pricing and full specifications and features will be announced closer to the start of sales.
Australia’s first $1 billion dollar car program. This compares with $600 million spent on the acclaimed VT range released in 1997
Combined with WM Statesman and Caprice, total program costs were $1.23 billion
Most clean-sheet car program in Holden’s history
More than 3.42 million development kilometres were driven during the program
About 2.4 million Commodores have been built for domestic and export sales since the VB Commodore was launched in 1978
Holden Commodore has been Australia’s best selling car each year since 1996, the year before VT was launched
Model lineup
The new Omega and V Series models feature in a revised Commodore lineup. Omega replaces Executive and Acclaim while the V Series adds new variants to the leading SS and Calais nameplates.
Omega (new) – 3.6L V6, peak power 180kW, peak torque 330Nm, four-speed automatic
Berlina – 3.6L V6, peak power 180kW, peak torque 330Nm, four-speed automatic; 6.0L V8, peak power 270kW, peak torque 530Nm, six-speed automatic
SV6 – 3.6L V6, peak power 195kW, peak torque 340Nm, five-speed automatic or six-speed manual
SS – 6.0L V8, peak power 270kW, peak torque 530Nm, six-speed automatic, six-speed manual
SS V (new) – 6.0L V8, peak power 270kW, peak torque 530Nm, six-speed automatic, six-speed manual
Calais – 3.6L V6, peak power 195kW, peak torque 340Nm, five-speed automatic; 6.0L V8, peak power 270kW, peak torque 530Nm, six-speed automatic
Calais V (new) – 3.6L V6, peak power 195kW, peak torque 340Nm, five-speed automatic; 6.0L V8, peak power 270kW, peak torque 530Nm, six-speed automatic
Two variants of the advanced all-aluminium 3.6L Alloytec V6 engine will be offered
The high output Alloytec will deliver peak power of 195kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 340Nm @ 2600rpm, up 5kW and 5Nm
The Alloytec V6 will deliver peak power of 180kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 330Nm @ 2600rpm, up 8kW and 10Nm
Increased output from the new 6.0L Generation 4 V8 engine to peak power of 270kW @ 5700rpm and peak torque of 530Nm @ 4400rpm, up 10kW and 20Nm. This makes the new engine the most powerful standard Holden ever produced
Plans for a 3.6L dual fuel LPG Alloytec V6 engine later in the year.
Five transmissions will be offered, comprising three automatic and two manual transmissions. An all-new six-speed automatic transmission will be offered for V8 variants, shared with General Motors’ flagship Cadillac cars and the Chevrolet Corvette.
GM 6L80E six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select (introduced in the Cadillac STS-V in the United States ) makes its Australian debut as an option in all V8 variants
Tremec T56 six-speed manual in SS and SS V
GM 5L40E five-speed automatic with Active Select in Calais V6
Aisin AY6 six-speed manual in SV6
GM 4L60E four-speed automatic in Omega and Berlina
Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) standard on all models
Driver, front passenger and side impact airbags available on all models
Occupant protection system designed for real world driving environment
Curtain airbags available on all models – standard on SS V, Calais and Calais V; optional on Omega, Berlina, SV6 and SS
Ultra-stiff body structure, multiple load path strategy, structurally optimised front and rear deformation zones
Greatly expanded use of super-strength and high-strength steels in the body
All-new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
Zone-based front and rear park assist systems available on selected models
Multi-function display reporting system
Bluetooth standard on all models except optional on Omega
Roof-mounted DVD systems available on all models
Auxiliary plug in audio systems to accommodate MP3 devices
Integrated navigation and telematics systems available later in 2006
VE is the 14 th series of Commodore since the original VB Commodore was released in 1978. The VB Commodore was introduced as a replacement for the iconic Kingswood family. New generations of Commodore were introduced in 1988 with the VN series and the VT series in 1997.
Commodore has been Australia’s best selling car for each of the past 10 years, including the end of the VS series (1996), VT series (1997-2000), VX series (2000-2002), VY series (2002-2004) and the outgoing VZ series (2004-2006).
It is Australia’s best selling car year to date in 2006, a significant achievement given general awareness of the pending VE arrival.

1 Comment

  • Ming| January 16, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    And unfortunately they plan to butcher the grille with some kind of softened Solstice look… See:
    Hi Ming:
    Yep, the Holden VE Commodore looks pretty great as is. Too bad if they decide to “Americanize” it before it gets here.

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