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Is the new Holden Commodore an instant orphan?

The latest ZB Commodore, launched this week is not only the first imported Commodore; it could also be the shortest lived of the lot.

SPECULATION OVER the future of the new Commodore has been rife, even before the car itself had turned a wheel. 

The purchase from General Motors of the Opel and Vauxhall brands last year by French-government owned PSA (maker of Peugeot and Citroen) threw the whole Commodore thing into doubt as details of the deal became clearer. For its part, PSA’s view was that the Opel brand would, under its stewardship be reduced to just two distinct, PSA-developed platforms, possibly as early as 2021. Read Paul Horrell’s report on this, he sniffed out the orphan angle before the rest of the world caught up.

And the GM-developed Opel Insignia platform, on which the new Commodore is heavily based, was, as a result, for the chop.

But Holden’s chairman and managing director, Mark Bernhard told Practical Motoring at this week’s launch of the ZB Commodore, that the deal with PSA locked the French company into supplying the Insignia platform for at least six years.

“Under the agreement (with PSA) we get this (the ZB Commodore) and the Astra for the full life-cycle; so, it’s good for six years,” Mr Bernhard said.

But what happens beyond that? “Do I have a plan beyond PSA? No. But ask me again in 18 months.”

We will.

Even so, it seems as though the Opel-based Commodore will have a shorter-than-average lifespan within the GM world, as the game is likely to change after those six years.

Holden’s four previous generations of Commodore have enjoyed lifespans of 10 years, nine years, nine years and 12 years respectively.

Holden has already admitted that it doesn’t expect the imported Commodore to sell as well as the locally-built version that disappeared late last year, so amortising the development costs on fewer cars and over six years rather than nine is a big ask.

Meantime, it’s difficult to imagine General Motors buying a car from PSA (or anybody else) to re-engineer and sell as a Holden.

A more likely scenario would be GM dipping into its huge global catalogue and adapting either a North American or South Korean (GM owns Daewoo) design for use Down Under.

The Opel-based car is also sold in North America as a Buick, so any replacement for that car could point the way forward for the Commodore franchise.


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Peter Gaskin
Peter Gaskin
2 years ago

Except the steering wheel of the Buick model is on the wrong side. The Buick is also sold in China. Again the steering wheel is on the wrong side. Sales will ultimately determine if there is a replacement for the zb. Would love to see sale of Vauxhall and Opel documents to see exactly what it says about continued sales of Buick Regal and Commodore zb. The big question is – can the Holden name survive?

Azmodan
Azmodan
2 years ago

Nice looking car for sure, but no performance variant. Why on earth would SS owners want to jump to this. The state of the performance market in affordable sedans is now dead with Holden and Ford gone. There is nothing I can replace my Falcon F6 with that could touch performance wise under $300K. Mustang is a poorly packaged cramped 4 seater, and it’s NA engine is slow. You need to spend another $15K just to get it to go. Stinker is is a decent first effort, but just too heavy, not a fan of the styling, gearbox sucks, soul-less car devoid of any exhaust note. All the rest are egregiously over-priced Euro’s, with poor resale, sky-high servicing.

No idea where to turn.

Bill
Bill
2 years ago
Reply to  Azmodan

Why not try driving the new ZB before you decide.

Azmodan
Azmodan
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Why on earth would I want to do that. Did you even read what I said? Put it this way a GTS W1 would be a step down in power for me, why on earth do you think I’d be interested in a normally aspirated V6 making 230kW.

Theo
Theo
2 years ago
Reply to  Azmodan

The number 1 key issue for Kia with Stinger is “its not a V8”, the only reason why Ford AU got away with the XR6 Turbo and then the FPR F6 and at the end the XR6 Turbo Sprint was because they also offered V8 power XR8 and the GS / GT, the reason why Ford can get away with selling 20% of total Mustang sales as Ecoboost 4cyl turbo petrol is the V8, Kia on the other hand have this awesome coupe style sedan with a great V6 twin turbo but its not selling because there is nothing else there to compliment it (and no the 2L 4cyl turbo does not count much like Ecoboost Falcon did not count).

GM Holden have gone from 304kW to 235kW … from old school RWD OHV V8 to high tech V6 which is FWD bias AWD, simply won’t work, it’;s not like they have not tried before with the previous gen Insignia VXR which boomed in terms of sales and this time round no turbo just NA powered high strung V6 …

Glenn
Glenn
2 years ago
Reply to  Azmodan

Totally agree with u, how about the Kia Stinger then?? Personally I’m waiting for the Subaru STI update which should be 2020 there abouts, I’ve got a BA2 xr6 turbo and kept it done over 300,000 KMs, bought a 2012 WRX there fun to drive but just the turbo lag but I love it! Good bang for for buck but not as good as your FPV F6.

Azmodan
Azmodan
2 years ago
Reply to  Glenn

Ha ha, yes I’m waiting for the Sti in 2020. Supposedly hybrid. By then there will be other choices too,

As I said, Stinger is decent enough but not interested. I would never buy first gen of an all new car that has no previous heritage. If they make a mk II 150kg lighter, more power, better styling, proper gearbox, then I would be interested.

If all else fails I’ll buy a 2-3 year old Audi S3. Stage 2+ tunes will get you into the high 3’s, 350kg than Stinger, better looking.

Glenn
Glenn
2 years ago
Reply to  Azmodan

Wouldn’t buy a Korean made car at all, another car I wish they made RHD and would be shut up and take my money would be Dodge Hell Cat just the thought off it going through a 60l tank in just 10 minutes sounds like fun to me.

Ben Tate
Ben Tate
2 years ago
Reply to  Glenn

Most enthusiasts have been buying cars made by Yank Car Co’s so we know what their quality and customer care is like.

The Koreans look like they’re jumping ahead in leaps and bounds so I am just about ready to give one a try. Who else offers a 7 year warranty? Who else offers a grunty RWD V6 turbo or V8?

Glenn
Glenn
2 years ago
Reply to  Ben Tate

If there jumping leaps n bounds as u say then how come Kia doesn’t have a top 10 selling car!

Ben Tate
Ben Tate
2 years ago
Reply to  Glenn

Glenn. When I said leaps and bounds I was referring to progress from cheapie FWDs to seriously grunty cars built with input from guys who worked for German Co’s. Evidence? Kia has our attention like never before. A few years ago Kia would not have been on our minds nor would it have captured much attention on motoring web pages. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stinger vs G70 comparos take over from SSV vs XR8 comparos. If that happens we might see Kia and Hyundai climb up the sales charts.

Ben Tate
Ben Tate
2 years ago
Reply to  Azmodan

The Stinger is up the top of my list. The list is short.
* Kia Stinger.
* Hyundai G70.
* Subaru WRX STI.
* BMW 140i. If discounted.
* Daylight.
* Mustang V8.

Cant think of anything else.

Stavros
Stavros
2 years ago

….adapting either a North American or South Korean (GM owns Daewoo) design for use Down Under.

And we know how the last lot of GMH adaptations from Daewoo went….

Ben Tate
Ben Tate
2 years ago

If Holden is turning its back on performance enthusiasts why race the ZB?
If Holden wants to retain its race fans as customers why on earth dump RWD V8s at exactly the same time it ceases local production? I wish they’d kept the VF going at least until the Camaro is available as a factory RHD and price competitive with the Mustang. Ford must be tickled pink with Mustang sales!!

But it’s a fair point. The 2 door Mustang is not much of a family car. Ditto the Camaro? Here’s an idea for GM. Add rear doors to the Camaro and massage the roofline to add rear seat headroom. Max Headroom! Then add Commodore badges. It’s my guess that we performance nuts would lap up a Camaro based Commodore.

Theo
Theo
2 years ago
Reply to  Ben Tate

Mustang & Camaro are not replacement vehicles for the likes of XR8 & SS for the main reason they are coupe not 4 door sedans, GM Holden with the Insigina VXR will get some sales form the diehard’s but nowhere near the near 50% the V8 Commodores were commanding in terms of total Commodore sales right till the end of VF II, meanwhile Ford could of had something really special with Ranger Raptor but they forgot “size does matter” in the equipment dept, Mustang & Rocus ST/RS are not Falcon replacements.

GM Holden are only taking the Insignia because they have been forced too by the USA owners, no way the ZB will be selling near Camry numbers, not possible, Toyota have that market to themselves with all other brands minor bit players like Mazda with 6 and Ford with Mondeo and Subaru with Liberty, all small sellers next to Camry and the Insignia will be also.

Farr-King Elle
Farr-King Elle
2 years ago

The only ZB model that may do ok numbers is the AWD Outback like wagon variant. As for the rest of the range, it will be sales fizzer doing Mondeo like numbers. The PSA sale has put the nail in this car’s coffin.

Tony Benson
Tony Benson
2 years ago

I wonder what the new commodore does better than its natural competitor, the mazda 6. I can’t see it besting it in any fashion. Road test please. As for the fellow commentators complaining about no performance models, let’s see what the aftermarket does to that puny AWD V6 and, you always have the used market for many years to come. You can even lease used vehicles. Either that or save for a real car, like a Lexus ISF V8. 5 litres of pure rise burning power.

Alan Smithee
Alan Smithee
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Benson

Even in 4 cylinder form the ZB Commodore has quite a bit more power and torque than the Mazda 6. Not sure that necessarily makes it better than a Mazda 6 but that does at least provide the potential for some buyers to see it as better. Then there’s the option of getting it with the V6 and AWD. Something you can’t get in the Mazda 6, for now. The ZB Commodore is probably a closer match for the Subaru Liberty than the Mazda 6, though like the Mazda 6 and unlike the Liberty it uses a torque converter auto instead of a CVT.

Dave Morley

Dave Morley