Opinion: New Commodore might take some getting used to

2018 Holden Commodore VXR

Holden has released the first official images and information about its new Commodore VXR – the replacement, more or less, for the current VF II SS.

You’ll see the car for yourself and read the details in News in the current issue- and online, but it scores a 235kW/381Nm naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6, all-wheel drive, big Brembos, a nine-speed auto and is on-sale early 2018.

There will actually be some genuine DNA between this and the VF II – and all the Commodores before it. Holden says more than 100,000 development kilometres have been logged by its engineers in Australia, including Lead Dynamics Engineer Rob Trubiani, one of the core creators of the mega, current 304kW VF II SS range.

2018 Holden Commodore VXR rear.jpg“This is a more than worthy successor,” Trubiani is quoted as saying. “We’ve been involved in the development of this car from the beginning and I personally have spent significant time behind the wheel overseas and at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground.”

It’s reassuring to hear a Commodore engineering veteran like Trubiani talk so positively, and have been so involved in its development, but still, I am torn about this car.

On the one hand, I think it looks cool, I’m excited by the technology it’s packing including what sounds like multiple handling personalities available at the touch of a button. And I’m being realistic about its pace, given it’s not exactly setting the spec sheet on fire.

2016 Holden Insignia VXRBut on the other hand, I look at it and I think it’s an exciting new Insignia – and get all confused when I think Commodore, a large, rear-drive, very Australian sedan. One that’s popped in and out of my entire life, which will – not to sound dramatic – very likely symbolise the loss of some national identity when it’s no longer manufactured in Adelaide at the end of this year.

It’s tricky as I understand the Opel DNA in the original Commodore and that throughout its many homegrown generations, the Commodore has maintained some sort of under-the-skin connection to other cars in the GM world, which does lend the new car legitimacy.

And after the scepticism towards it has worn off, I might be glad that a Commodore is still around. But even if the new Commodore is brilliant and spawns faster models, I still have a feeling it’s going to be a long, difficult adjustment period.

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