Being a fan of Australian home-grown Commodores and Falcons, and having seen many up close when in Australia, we spotted this work-in-progress from 100 feet away and knew exactly what it is.
When Pontiac needed a rear wheel drive sports sedan, the Holden Commodore was rebadged as a Pontiac, fixed with a new Pontiac-type grill land hood, and sold in the North America from 2008 thru 2009. This example is a base V-8 model G8, and the owner has started switching the Pontiac badges for Holden badges.
Except in the front and the interior. Perhaps those are future projects.
When GM went bankrupt on June 1, 2009, Holden lost a lucrative export market and got stuck with a bunch of unneeded parts. Enter the 2010 Holden Commodore SS V-Series, offered in sedan, wagon, and ute. Enhanced with the Pontiac grill and hood – and solving the problem of the leftover parts.
The back was again the same, although with a handsome large spoiler rather than the small spoiler that had been shared between the Commodore and the G8. We’d like to see the subject of this post change the rear spoiler. We’ve seen lots of Commodores with large rear spoilers and they are very distinctive.
The Commodore SS V-series was also offered in wagon form. Wouldn’t it be great to see one of these here?
The 2013 Holden VF Commodore was unveiled for the first time today in Australia (one day ahead of us on their Sunday afternoon) to an audience of automotive press and Holden workers, as well as to 185 worldwide viewers watching live on YouTube (a worryingly small number).
Technical specs were not revealed yet, but will be part of the production launch in a couple of months. The heavily revised rear-wheel drive Commodore is vital to Holden as it tries again to make a sustaining business case for an “orphan” car – that is, the only use of this particular chassis in the world (not counting the older version of it used under the current Camaro – but not the next). It’s a difficult financial case, but with help from the Australian Government Holden will benefit the Australian economy to the tune of $2B AUS to put the car into production and run the production line over the next few years. And the launch of the rebadged Commodore as the Chevy SS in the United States later this year as well as sales to existing markets in the middle East will hopefully be enough to keep the car in production – and Australian workers employed.
Watch the replay of the announcement here:
Mike Devereux, Chairman and Managing Director of Holden (clearly not from Oz himself, as his pronunciation of “aluminum” revealed), launched the car in front of an enormous slideshow. The interior of the car (featuring perforated leather French-seamed seats) was shown as the light blue Commodore was rolled out, but almost no details were released other than the use of aluminum for the hood and trunk (bonnet and boot).
The Commodore apparently uses a version of the Cadillac Cue system, to be known locally as “Mylink”.
We see a little of bit of Infiniti in the large creases running down the length of the hood. And the grill is, almost, feminine in a way. It will be hard to imagine this new body being used in a performance version, as the current Commodore offers in the very masculine “Z Series”.
And some influences from BMW in the side windows and trunk lid. And perhaps a little from Jaguar in the vent behind the front wheels. The Commodore has clearly moved upscale.
The platform used by the Commodore was designed from the start to meet U.S. crash standards, which is not the case with the Ford Falcon. This allows GM to export it to several markets worldwide. The Commodore is currently sold in several foreign markets, including the Middle East in long wheelbase form as the Chevrolet Caprice, in stripped-down and prepped form in the United States as the Chevrolet Caprice police car (not available to civilians), and in Europe in performance variants via special order as the Holden Commodore. It was also formerly sold in the United States as the Pontiac G8, cancelled when GM declared bankruptcy and eliminated the Pontiac brand.
An updated Ford Falcon has also been announced, although only the briefest (and fuzziest) picture of the front has been shown. The Falcon, however, is sold solely in Australia and has no chance of getting to the United States in any possible future. Ford has all but confirmed that it will be replaced with the next-generation Taurus platform, thankfully lighter and much more modern than the current Taurus. But things could change, or at least drag out on the current platform, and similar investments by the Australian Government will certainly be offered to keep Ford manufacturing and jobs in Australian.
GM today confirmed the return of the Holden Commodore to the United States. Last sold as the Pontiac G8, sales suffered because of Pontiac dealer training failures, lack of advertising, and the general decline of GM. The G8 was, as is the Holden Commodore, based on the technologically advanced “Zeta” platform which is also used underneath the Chevrolet Camaro.
This is great news for driving enthusiasts since the Holden is first and foremost a driver’s car. The Commodore is offered in Australia with a range of V-6 and V-8 engines along with modern engines and a dynamic suspension. And several variants are offered including the “Redline” series with a higher performance V-8, 6-speed manual, 19″ tires, and Brembo brakes. We saw several of these on our last trip to Australia and were very impressed. It’s not known if those will come to the U.S.
The existence of the Chevrolet SS sedan has been one of the worst kept secrets in GM over the past few months. The use of the Commodore body for NASCAR had been all but confirmed, and that alone confirmed the importation of the Commodore as the SS. A press image of the disguised SS testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway would have confirmed the SS if Chevrolet hadn’t finally confirmed it in the press announcement today.
Open questions remain… apparently both six-speed and manual transmissions will be offered, but on which V-8s? The current 6- and 6.2-liter engines, or the upcoming 5.5 liter? Furthermore, it is understood that the Camaro will move off the Zeta platform in the 2016 timeframe to the new Alpha platform (used in the Cadillac ATS). The Alpha is a more modern platform, with a particular emphasis on weight reduction (much needed by the porky Camaro). Will Holden then continue to build the Commodore on the Zeta platform, or will that be replaced by the Alpha? The implication in the wording below is that the SS Sedan would move to the Alpha platform along with the Camaro if sales are as expected.
Now that the news is out, it will be interesting to see what Ford has to offer along these lines… the Australian Falcon as it currently exists cannot be Federalized… but an opportunity is coming up for it and the new Mustang to share a chassis in the 2015-2016 timeframe. Will Ford step up to the plate and play?
And in 2013 when the Australian V-8 Supercars series comes to the United States, and fans at the new Circuit of the Americas racetrack outside of Austin Texas are watching the SS-labeled Commodores battle the Falcons, and where Chevrolet will undoubtedly show the production SS, what will Ford have to say?
GM Press Release follows:
Chevrolet Announces New SS Performance Sedan
Will compete in 2013 NASCAR and arrive in showrooms as 2014 model
DETROIT – Chevrolet today announced the return of a V-8 powered, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan to the U.S. lineup, the Chevrolet SS. The SS will also be Chevrolet’s next NASCAR Sprint Cup racecar and will debut in its race configuration at the 2013 Daytona 500.
The limited production version of the Chevrolet SS will be a 2014 model and will arrive in dealer showrooms in late 2013. It is the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet will offer a rear-wheel-drive sedan for sale in the United States.
Chevrolet has a long history of using the SS (Super Sport) designation on high-performance models of some of its most enduring nameplates. The SS designation first appeared in 1957 on a Corvette prototype race car built under the guidance of Zora Arkus-Duntov with the plan to enter it in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
The first production vehicle offered with an SS option was the 1961 Impala – 453 were built with the performance upgrades which included a modified chassis and suspension, power brakes, a steering column mounted tachometer and unique wheels and tires. The latest SS model in the Chevrolet lineup is the fifth-generation Camaro, which debuted in 2010.
The Chevrolet SS will be a derivative of the award-winning global rear-wheel-drive architecture that spawns performance vehicles like Chevrolet Camaro and Holden’s upcoming VF Commodore. The much anticipated Australian-built car will benefit from significant technology advances which enhance overall performance.
“As a passionate race fan and performance enthusiast, I am thrilled that Chevrolet will deliver a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR racecar in the SS that is closely linked to the performance sedan that will be available for sale,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America. “The Chevrolet SS is a great example of how GM is able to leverage its global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience that extends beyond the track. I am personally looking forward to driving it.”
Chevrolet was America’s best-selling performance car brand in 2011 with Camaro and Corvette accounting for one out of every three sports cars sold in the United States. The addition of the SS should strengthen Chevrolet’s position as a leading performance brand.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.
Lots of rumors floating around the internet – and one leak – seem to indicate that Chevrolet will bring a version of the current Holden Commodore to the North American market in the model year 2014. We previously saw this same car as the Pontiac G8. GM Inside News has the latest thoughts.
A long wheelbase version of this same car is currently sold to police agencies in the United States. But the shorter wheelbase Commodore is sold in Australia and is exported to Middle Eastern markets under Chevrolet branding.
Styling may change slightly, but the mechanicals will apparently be current (leaving us to wonder where the new 5.5 liter direct-injected V-8 is in the production schedule).
There is an in interesting opportunity here… the Australian V8 Supercars race is coming to the United States in 2013, featuring the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon. Neither of these cars are sold in the United States… and if the rumor of the arrival of the Commodore here in 2014 is true, then Chevrolet has a unique marketing opportunity to show the car with Chevrolet badging. And a chance to one-up Ford… where the current and aging Falcon will continue as-is until 2016 under the current plan (and thanks to Australian Government subsidies). It uses a dated platform that was never designed to meet US crash standards – making its own arrival in North America impossible.
Kudos to Chevrolet if these rumors are true!
The ages-old battle of GM versus Ford is still going strong as ever in Australia… perhaps even stronger than in North America. The following article in the Aussie website Goauto.com confirms that Holden – the “Chevy” of Australia, will use the new engine as well. This is (apparently, not formally announced) a 5.5 liter, OHV, single cam-in-block “pushrod” engine with cam phasing (not variable cam timing, since there is only one cam) and direct injection. GM announced production of this engine some time ago, interviews with engineers revealed some of the details over the past year or so, confirmations have appeared in other places such as leaks from the UAW, and engineering articles in sources such as the SAE have also revealed details. There will be variations on the engine, probably with and without cylinder shut-off (“displacement on demand”), but all variations will use aluminum blocks and head and use direct injection. Two GM facilities, St Catherines Ontario Canada and Tonawanda New York, will build the engine.
The displacement is smaller, and output may or may not not equal the current 6.2 liter engine, but with weight reductions overall power-to-weight will remain the same or improve.
Very good, GM.
Great eight: GM has announced production plans for a new Gen V direct-injection V8 to replace the Gen IV engine used in the current Holden Commodore.
GM’s new high-tech direct-injection V8 set to supersede Gen IV used in Commodore
28 April 2010
By RON HAMMERTON
GENERAL Motors has foreshadowed a new-generation direct-injection V8 that will take the fight up to Ford’s new 5.0-litre Coyote V8 that is expected to arrive in supercharged form in the Falcon XR8 from late this year.
Production plans for General Motors’ new, more fuel-efficient and cleaner Generation V V8 ‘family’ – to replace the current Gen IV pushrod V8 introduced in 6.0-litre form into Commodore in 2006 and upgraded with displacement on demand a little more than a year ago – were announced overnight by GM in the United States where the company said it would spend $US890 million ($A970m) tooling up for the new engine.
While the timing of the new engine remains secret, along with specific capacities, fuel consumption and power and torque figures, GM says the new small-block V8 will have “unprecedented fuel efficiency through direct injection and an all-new advanced combustion system design”.
“The new engine family will rely exclusively on aluminum engine blocks, which are lighter and contribute to the improved fuel efficiency,” GM said in a statement released in Detroit.
“In addition to being E85 ethanol capable, these engines are being designed with the capability to meet increasingly stringent criteria emissions standards expected throughout this decade.”
Although Holden’s official line is that it has no plans to change the Gen IV V8 powertrain in the Commodore, insiders point to the company’s tradition of following GM advances, including displacement on demand and E85 ethanol capability.
The North American-made engine could be shipped to Australia to be bolted into Holden’s Commodore and Statesman/Caprice, as well as export models including the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) for the US and the Chev Caprice and Lumina for the Middle East.
The Caprice PPV will need to have the latest engine when it comes on stream to bring it in line with other GM products offered in the US, and it seems logical for Holden to adopt it for Commodore and Statesman/Caprice at the same time.
The Gen V engine has been designed to help GM meet new, stricter fuel economy measures in the US, as well as tougher emissions rules around the world, including Australia.
Here, new Euro 4 emissions standards are set to kill Ford’s 5.4-litre Boss V8 in Australia when they come into force on July 1, with Ford looking to its new Coyote 5.0-litre V8 that made its debut in the latest Mustang to get back into the V8 game with its XR8 and Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) range.
As GoAuto reported exclusively recently, Ford Australia has developed a supercharged version of the Coyote engine, developing 315kW at 6500rpm, for introduction into the Falcon XR8 to maintain a ‘bent eight’ presence against Holden’s Commodore SS and SS-V.
In FPV GT form, the engine is expected to pump out about 335kW and 600Nm of torque.
The 260kW/510Nm Gen IV Holden V8 is Euro 3 compliant, and can be modified to meet Euro 4 beyond the July deadline to continue production until the Gen V V8 arrives at some point in the future.
With fuel economy improvement being central to the new GM engine, it will be interesting to see if GM at last drops its time-honoured pushrod, two-valve design that has delivered legendary low-end grunt for decades or, like Ford, joins the modern world with an overhead cam, 32-valve layout.
GM dispensed with pushrods and rocker valves on its ‘High Feature’ Alloytec V6 that was introduced on the VZ Commodore in 2006. That engine was upgraded with direct-injection and other improvements in the Spark Injection Direct Injection (SIDI) VE Commodore last year.
That V6 is in for a further upgrade this year when Holden introduces an E85 ethanol-capable version of Commodore.
Official fuel test figures for Holden’s Gen IV V8 put its combined-cycle consumption at 12.6 litres per 100km, thanks to GM’s ‘active fuel management’ displacement on demand system introduced early last year in line with Australian production of the ill-fated Pontiac G8 in Australia. That system improved consumption by 1.3L/100km over the first iteration of the Gen IV V8.
But the new GM V8 will have to herald even greater fuel savings, not just to meet new official targets but to match Ford’s Coyote V8, which is said to achieve 9.0L/100km in 2011 manual Mustang form.
There is every likelihood that, like Ford, GM will cut the capacity of its engine in its various interations to help it meet its environmental objectives, relying instead on high-tech solutions including direct-injection, which the Ford engine does not have.
Officially, Holden is keeping mum about plans for the new engine, as it needs to keep selling the Gen IV for some time.
Holden senior manager product communications Jonathan Rose told GoAuto in a statement: “There is no plan to change the Gen IV V8 powertrain in the current Commodore range.
“We continue to receive great feedback from our V8 customers about the performance of the engine.
“Since the introduction of active fuel management, the engine has been able to deliver the best of both worlds to performance enthusiasts – improved fuel efficiency with the power they want from a V8.”
However, GoAuto believes Holden is likely to take the new engine at the first available opportunity once it goes into production at two plants in North America – St Catherines in Canada and Tonawanda, New York State.
Those plants, and three of GM’s casting and component factories, will share the $890 million budgeted for new tooling and other improvements in readiness for the latest V8.
Announcing the plan, former GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss – now president of GM North America – said the project was part of GM’s investment in plants and jobs “and making progress toward our vision of designing, building and selling the world’s best vehicles”.
“These latest investments show our commitment to improving fuel economy for buyers of every GM car, truck and crossover and giving them the best possible driving and ownership experience,” he said.
It is unclear if a variant of the Gen V V8 will also replace the Chev Corvette-sourced 6.2-litre LS3 engine currently employed by Holden Special Vehicles.
This engine belts out up to 325kW in the HSV GTS, and is said to be already Euro 4 compliant.
Given the press release in my post that preceeded this one (announcing the 1st prorotype build of the Commodore-based Pontiac G8) , I have some questions about this platform and by extension the 2009 Camaro. According to my previous posting, the G8 (Holden) uses a new ”global rear wheel drive architecture”. And yet we know that there are changes being made to this platform to accomodate further uses – aka Lutz’ ongoing discussion of “longer, shorter” wheelbase as well as longer and shorter engine compartment (thus alloing for both different sized cars as well as engines longer than a V-8 – aka his utopian and very unrealistic of a V-12 super-Caddy based on this platform) and how that development has delayed the Camaro a year. If that is true, is the G8 truly a world architecture, or merely version .5 of that architecture? Won’t the Camaro be the first true use of that architecture? Or am I reading too much into his statement?
In either case, the suspension of the G8 is well documented, we have specs and images of the entire thing. If this is 100% the Camaro platform, then we know everything about that car suspension-wise (we still need to know the weight of the car and that will be a very interesting number given it’s apparent size).
The following press release was issued at the same time the Holden was released. The fully adjustable front and rear independent suspensions (which I’ve highlighted in red below) are going to be a great feature for future Camaro owners who wish to drive their cars in performance events. The adjustability means owners will be able to optimize their alignments for those particular events. While the Camaro will be a bit large and porky for autocross, it may be successful (and cost-effective) for use in open track events. The Holden brakes are too small (only 12.6″ in front), but I believe Chevy will offer a larger brake package.
My speculation (for a performance package model) based on the Holden specs that have been released, and on leveraging GM’s known engine development plans:
- Engine: LS3
- GM’s latest, will be implemented across the board
- Transmission: Tremac T6060
- replacing now-obsolete T-56 the Holden originally launched with
- Length: 182″
- visually a much shorter trunk than the Mustang – the Camaro has very short overhangs
- Weight: 3650 pds
- a stretch – but given the chassis already exists and the upcoming 35 MPG standard, all unnecessary weight will be removed before production
- Balance: 53/47% fr/rr
- reflecting the aluminum block
- Brakes: 13.5″/13″ 2-piston/1-piston fr/rr
- off-the shelf PBRs
But then the Camaro specs haven’t been officially announced yet so for now this is just an educated guess. We won’t know for sure for another year. Needless to say, a great car is coming!
- The grotesquely & morbidly obese Shelby Mustang, perched ass-up on it’s antique solid rear axle, weights just a bit under 4000 pounds and has 58.5% of it’s weight over the front wheels – like a FWD car. No wonder it handles so poorly. Contributing to that unhealthy condition is an iron block engine from the F-150, a high center of gravity due to the supercharger and necessary plumbing, and a stamped steel suspension. Clearly a compromise: cost was the major concern, made worse by not being able to share platform costs with any other product in the world. The base V-6 and V-8 engines come directly from the Explorer and that does save some expense.
- The Camaro looks great in the new Transformers movie. That Camaro (Bumblebee for those of you – not me – who follow Transformers) is of course based on the showcar… so let’s hope the “presence” of the showcar does indeed carry over into production.
Some smart webmaster has jumped right in and created a forum for the new Pontiac G8 (demonstrating yet again how easy it is to setup a board powered by vBulletin). Follow the link to the new site.
The Pontiac G8 is actually an Australian Holden with some minor changes for the US Market. Unlike the poorly done Pontiac GTO, the G8 was designed from the start to be exported and it doesn’t suffer from the types of compromises and limitations that hobbled the GTO. And it’s on an all-new platform, not a recycled one that had been around for 15 years (which we’d seen before as the Catera!).
Pontiac enthusiasts can also visit the “Pontiac Underground” site here: http://pontiacunderground.autos.yahoo.com/
BusinessWeek Online reports that the GTO has been canceled….
The GTO never had more than a few years in the pipeline… Holden had planned all along to end-of-life the Monaro – the car the GTO is built from. The Monaro was extremely dated – it traces itself back to the same chassis used on the Caddy Catera, and the platform had serious and untenable safety issues (gas tank location required a re-engineering for US markets – and the result took away half the trunk and changed the CG point).
Whether the nameplate will be seen again on another platform is still TBD. As so many people have correctly pointed out, Camaros and GTOs won’t save GM.
Late this month the Holden Monaro (nee Pontiac GTO) will be out of production. While this glorified Opel (built on a previous-gen opel platform, also used by the last Cadillac Catera) was never particularly sophisticated, well designed, or well built – it did stand out because it was sent worldide by GM, both to the ‘states as a Pontiac GTO and to Europe in it’s original form.
I really wanted to like the GTO when it came out. However, the styling looks like a slightly over-inflated Chevy Cavalier, the gas tank repositioning that was necessary to meet crash standards (thats what GM gets for using a platform that is technically obsolete) is rediculous, and the narrowness of the body precludes any upgrade to tire size at all (245s are all that can be fitted under any circumstances). My last thoughts were possibly to use one for Open Road events… until I heard that high speed stability was also poor. That sunk it.
A caution about CARSGuide – it’s great to see a well-written site from Australia. However, they don’t offer an RSS feed. The only way to get a feed is to use the horrible “News is Free” feed. If you subscribe to CARSGuide that way, every tiem you click on a link you’ll be blasted with juvenile-themed ads about free cursors, free computers, and more. And they don’t let you back out of their ads back to your original page.
- “News is Free” should be boycoted because it’s ad-driven. Don’t support them in any way.
- CARSGuide needs to get it’s act together and build an RSS feed into their site. There is no excuse for not having an RSS feed these days.