Despite the despair and loathing of Holden’s true believers, the first imported Commodore is on sale.
Based on the German Opel Insignia rather than a locally-built car because of the closure of Holden’s Elizabeth manufacturing plant, the fifth generation of the iconic large car is unrecognisable compared to its predecessors.
No more big booming V8s, no sedan or ute and no lurid tail slides, instead the Commodore has shrunk in size, added a heap of high-tech equipment and increased its efficiency.
And conscious of that fundamental change, Holden boss Mark Bernhard is begging the Holden heartland to hold their vitriol until they at least drive the car.
“There are plenty of strong opinions out there about how this car will perform,” he said.
“Will our heartland customers buy the Commodore? I challenge any of them; drive the car then have an opinion.”
There are three distinct Commodore models on sale from February 21, a five-door hatch, a wagon – called the Sportwagon – and raised ride-height Tourer.
Adding complexity to the matrix are three engine choices, front- and all-wheel drive and no less than six equipment grades.
Firsts for Commodore include autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera, wireless phone charging, ventilated and massaging seats, a nine-speed automatic and the option of a diesel engine. If you live in Melbourne you can even buy one online and have it delivered to your door via a pilot program.
Pricing starts at $33,690 for the LT 2.0-litre turbo-petrol hatchback and climbs to $55,990 for the VRX V6 all-wheel drive sports hatch.
The starting price undercuts the old Commodore by $1800 and tops out nearly $3000 cheaper, although at that price the Holden hoons will rightly point out they were buying a roaring 6.2-litre V8 and not a 3.6-litre V6.
While there’s no doubt Holden has boldly launched a wide range of new-generation Commodores, the question is whether there will be enough buyers for every version.
Holden is quite openly admitting the new Commodore isn’t going to sell like its locally-built predecessors which dominated the sales charts for years.
SUVs and pick-ups are the big movers when it comes to sales these days, but Holden insists there are still enough people interested in traditional passenger cars to justify Commodore’s continued existence.