AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
10.Honda Civic Hatchback
We might have some fancy cars over here in the USA, but there are quite a few vehicles overseas that we can’t help but think are desperately missing from our shores. More than a few are niche market models perfect for auto-enthusiasts, while others are more stylish or practical than what’s currently available in the US. And some are both.
With only about three weeks until 2012, the Australian car market could end 2011 with a new best-selling sedan for the first time in 15 years. Although the Holden Commodore has been Australia’s favorite and a sales leader since 1997, Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries revealed that the Mazda3 has currently sold 301 more units than the Holden. What’s more, the Commodore faces a threat from another Japanese sedan, the Toyota Corolla, which has managed to gain “top-seller” honors for four months out of 2011.
The Holden Commodore has been steadily losing its market share for the past couple of years as consumers have begun selecting smaller cars or crossovers instead, marking the end of the sales dominance of Australian automakers. However, while discounts might just be the thing to give the Commodore a last minute boost in sales, Holden has no plans to enter into a price war with Mazda in order to take back their top spot.
[Source: Sydney Morning Herald]
The long-awaited rumors are true: Australia’s breathlessly-exciting V8 Supercars series is coming to America. But that’s not, the series has signed a five-year deal with Texas’s Circuit of The Americas, signaling a serious investment in the U.S. market.
Beginning in 2013, Americans in Austin, Texas and watching on the Speed Channel can get a glimpse of the rear-drive, V8 Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores that enthusiasts have pined for, for years.
“We’re thrilled the racing world is so excited about our facility,” said Steve Sexton, the track’s president. “Austin is poised to become the premiere North American destination for international motorsports. In addition to hosting the 4 wheel and 2 wheel world championships, the United States will now enjoy the world’s best touring car series here in Austin.”
The FIA recently sanctioned V8 Supercars as an international series, and its popularity—while always strong and booze-filled in Australia—is growing around the world. Circuit of The Americas will be a place to watch out for in the next few years as well; the triumphant return of F1 to these shores will take place there in 2012, and the MotoGP World Championship will be in 2013.
Now if you excuse me, I’ve got some plane tickets to book.
The Holden Commodore Ute has had more false starts in the United States than Elizabeth Taylor has had marriages, but rising gas prices might give General Motors an impetus to import the Ute as a pickup alternative at a time when high gas prices are making large trucks economically unfeasible.
Mark Reuss, GM’s head of North American operations, said that the Ute may be an important product if fuel prices compel pickup buyers to downsize from full-size trucks to more efficient but equally versatile vehicles. ’I've lived in Australia and I’ve seen where fuel prices are $5 a gallon and lots of tradesmen will use a ute with a tray on the back to do lots of different things, and they don’t need the bandwidth of a big pick-up truck,’ he told Australia’s Drive.
Reuss also said that no decision would come until the next generation Commodore in 2014, and that the pickup truck market in the States was still strong enough to continue with current offerings. General Motors planned to offer the Ute as a Pontiac vehicle, but those plans were shuttered in the wake of the 2009 recession.
Rumors of Holden vehicles, specifically the rear-drive Commodore, coming to the U.S. have always been a fixture of the automotive media, and with the Holden-based Pontiac G8′s demise a few years ago, some of them have seemed to be more wishful thinking than anything of substance.
General Motors is bringing back the larger Holden Statesman as a fleet-only Chevrolet Caprice, but that hasn’t stopped some suspiciously civilian-looking examples from popping up, including the one spied by an Edmunds Inside Line staffer, which is totally devoid of any police-style accouterments.
We’ve seen other shots that suggest that this is what the unmarked versions of the Caprice will look like, but we can still hold out hope that it’s also the basis for something much better, and available to the general public.
[Source: Inside Line]
Easily the best thing to come out of the now-defunct Pontiac brand in recent memory was the G8 sports sedan – based on the Australian Commodore. Not only was it an impressive performance machine, but it gave North America a taste of just how good a job Holden is doing down under.
Looking to satisfy that appetite, General Motors will reportedly re-introduce the rear-drive sedan in 2013 as a 2014 model year car. According to GMInsideNews, internal documents regarding the development of the car (code named ‘SS Sedan’) now have it listed as an approved program.
Delayed several times, the new launch date is designed to follow with the introduction of a new Commodore in Australia.
With the Pontiac brand now gone and no indication from General Motors to revive it, look for a Chevy bowtie to grace the grille of this new rear-drive machine.
Less certain, but not entirely ruled out, are the introduction of two additional Commodore-based models for North America: the Holden Ute (El Camino?) and Holden Commodore SportWagon. The future of these two vehicles depends on the success of the sedan, as well as the effect of rising gas prices on the buying habits of consumers.
During our drive of the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, we chatted with one engineer about GM’s Zeta platform, which underpins rear-drive full size cars. Among remarking how much we adored the Pontiac G8 sedan and how we longed for a revival of the car, the engineer broke into a broad grin and said “well, these things have a way of happening.”
Cut to Saturday, where GM’s Mark Reuss announced the debut of a vehicle based on the Camaro platform at the Chicago Auto Show. The only other car built on the platform is the Holden Commodore, which formerly underpinned the G8 and is the basis for the Chevrolet Caprice PPV, a model only sold to law enforcement agencies for police duty.
In recent weeks, photos of the Caprice have emerged that show it looking very ready for civilian duty (seen above). Gone are the steel wheels, push bars and flashing lights, and to the untrained eye, the car could be any other full-size American sedan.
There’s a strong chance the car will be a new variant of the Caprice, although a high-performance Camaro Z28 is also rumored to bow in Chicago. With Chrysler’s new 300 sedan (and Dodge’s Charger) being the only rear drive full size car on the market (and receiving rave reviews), Chevrolet will certainly want to capitalize on this and smash the 300′s monopoly. The only question is whether the vehicle will be the long-wheelbase police version (based on the Holden Statesman) or the standard length Commodore based car that was previously given to Pontiac as the G8. Engine choices will likely be the familiar 3.6L V6 making 300 horsepower or more, and a small-block V8 of indeterminate output.
[Source: Detroit News]
See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 Chicago Auto Show Preview here, with coverage starting Wednesday, February 9th.
While the Chevrolet Caprice is reserved for police vehicle fleets only, there have been some rumors about a civilian version making its way to showrooms for public consumption, and the latest videos showing footage of a police evaluation event only seem to further that.
Previous shots of the Caprice have either shown it in full police livery, or an “unmarked” version which ditched the lightbar and graphics but still retained the steel wheels and blacked out grilles. But the Caprices used in the latest video look like they could be sold to customers, if not for the small flashing lights hidden in the front fascia. Otherwise, the alloy wheels and interior devoid of any police equipment look pretty production ready. If it’s any consolation, we pressed one GM engineer at the Camaro Convertible launch about such a vehicle, and he answered with a wry smile, stating “these things have a way of happening”.
Video after the jump
Although the good Lord chose to take the Pontiac G8 from us far too early in its life, other countries can still enjoy GM’s Zeta platform superstar in all it’s Holden Commodore-based goodness.
The United Kingdom is particularly privileged, as it gets this Vauxhall VXR8, seemingly adorned in Rape Yellow, and it comes equipped with a 430 horsepower LS3 V8, capable of hitting 60 mph in just under 5 seconds. The VXR8 also gets the Magnetic Ride Control dampers from the Corvette ZR1, and a chassis tuned by Holden Special Vehicles, two items that were conspicuously missing from the Pontiac G8.
Of course, the VXR also costs an outrageous $78,060, about double the price of the top level G8 GXP. Still cheaper than an AMG or BMW M car, but a LOT of scratch for a General Motors sedan.
[Source: Top Speed]
General Motors is hoping that their next Chevrolet Impala, due in 2014, will be looked at as more than just fodder for the rental car lot. With a new platform shared with the Buick Lacrosse, the next Impala, due in 2014, should represent a significant jump in both style and performance – although based on the current car, that’s not saying too much.
The report in Automotive News also points to a possible rear-drive performance sedan for Chevrolet, which would almost certainly be based on the rear-drive Holden Commodore platform. The car would also be slated for a 2014 release, and one Chevrolet insider told Automotive News that “we are going back to the essence of what Chevrolet was and stood for — well-designed, beautiful, sculptured pieces, with lots of customer value.” Chevrolet is selling a Holden model to police fleets as the Chevrolet Caprice, but sales to the public are not planned at this time.
[Source: Automotive News]
Today’s shocking bit of news comes from a Motor Trend article on the future of Cadillac. While discussing future plans for the big rear-drive Zeta platform, MT claimed that the next generation Holden Commodore would switch to the Epsilon II platform that currently underpins cars like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Lacrosse.
Performance versions of the Commodore, along with the premium-positioned Holden Statesman would retain their RWD layout, but mainstream Commodores would move to front-wheel drive, a move that would likely shock buyers of the full-size Aussie muscle barge.
Rumors have been flying for some time that the Ford Falcon is going to front-drive, so the decision might make business sense, but will surely disappoint legions of hoons who rely on the Commodore for burnouts and other thrills.
[Source: Motor Trend]
As General Motors’ sole brand in Australia, Holden’s lineup gets most of GM’s better products, like the Cruze, Captiva (a re-badged Saturn Vue) and 6 varieties of the Holden Commodore, formerly known as the Pontiac G8. While GM claims that Cadillac is ready to go head to head with the Germans, in truth, the G8 was the closest GM has come to making a car as good as a BMW.
Our G8 was essentially a Holden Commodore SS, a fairly standard model in its home market, despite having a 6.0L, 361 horsepower V8, but in Australia, customers can opt for a Commodore that’s been breathed on by Holden Special Vehicles, a division similar to Mercedes-Benz’s AMG outfit, or BMW’s M division. The “base” model HSV Clubsport, has been selected for a special edition to commemorate the groups 20th anniversary. Only 100 cars will be produced, featuring a unique leather interior, sport suspension package, 20″ wheels and special decals echoing the original Clubsport’s graphics package.
Power remains the same, but that’s ok – with a 425 horsepower 6.2L LS3 V8 engine, straight line acceleration will be so rapid that bystanders won’t be able to tell that your car is any different from a standard car.
Gallery: HSV Clubsport 20th Anniversary Edition
[Source: Motor Trend]
Calling the Pontiac G8 “Too good to waste,” GM’s new product boss, Bob Lutz, has just announced that the car will live on, rebadged as a Chevrolet Caprice. The news comes as a surprise, considering GM’s CEO Fritz Henderson has been unwavering in his insistence that the car would be eliminated from the New GM.
Apparently part of the reason for the move is due to the fact that GM has an internal agreement with Holden, the Australian arm of the company that makes and sells the car as the Commodore in its home market. Currently GM sells the Comodore in markets like the middle east badged as a Chevy.
Lutz did not say if the new body style would be available for the U.S. market by 2010, of if consumers would have to wait until 2011.
So while GM looks to pave a new future full of green cars, it appears as though old-man-Lutz still wants General Motors to build cars for performance enthusiasts. He even said that a high-performance “V” version of the upcoming Cadillac CTS Coupe is still a possibility.
In addition, Lutz even commented that a “V” version of the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon was not completely out of the question. “I’m sure we’ll build at least one,” he said.
[Source: Automobile Magazine]