March 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
When looking for an affordable large sedan with a V8 powerplant and a sporty persona the Holden Commodore SS has become the default choice for many. While Ford Falcon fans may disagree, the SS has been a part of the Commodore range for 28 years and has established itself as the benchmark in this niche but hard fought market segment. But times change, and the SS Commodore has found itself fighting against a foe more dangerous than the Falcon. The biggest problem facing large V8 sports sedan like the SS is the increasing price of petrol and a global trend towards buying smaller vehicles. But rather than just fall over and accept extinction Holden’s SS Commodore is evolving by maximising its strengths and addressing its weaknesses all in the name of survival. Car and SUV spent a week studying the highest-spec Commodore SS-V Redline edition to calculate its chances of continued success.
One area the SS hasn’t required wholesale changes is exterior styling with the VE Commodore shape still looking modern even though it first debuted back in 2006. The subtle Series II update has refreshed the SS face with a new front fascia, larger front grille, recessed fog lamps and updated projector headlights. The chunky body kit remains but there’s a new boot spoiler and a huge lower air intake on the front skirt. Being the top dog of the sports Commodore range the SS V-Series Redline gets polished 19-inch alloys that cover four-piston Brembo brakes and 355mm rotors (front only). There’s also some special badging, and at the rear quad chrome exhaust outlets signal sinister intent. Overall, the SS remains true to its roots; it has a bulky, aggressive and athletic aesthetic that will continue to turn buyers’ heads. Continue reading “Holden Commodore SS-V Redline 2011 Review” »
March 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
It’s been rumoured for some time now and in Singapore a cosmetic version was released (pictured), but the sports-focused Cruze SS could be closer to reality than ever before.
Holden looks set to take the reins on building a higher-performance Cruze with the SS name plate already being mentioned. While nothing is certain at this stage if Holden gets to work on a Cruze SS it could be on the road in just one year.
Currently, Holden has been developing a revised suspension and steering setup for the Cruze. There is also talk that the 1.6-litre turbo engine found in the Astra in Europe is a possibility for the Cruze as well.
But it’s another possible engine option that has performance car fans excited – the 208kW 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder from the Opel OPC Concept shown at last year’s Paris Auto Show.
Holden’s ultimate plan for the Cruze is to eventually compete directly with the Mazda3′s range, with sport and standard powertrains, hatch and sedan bodystyles, and a range of trim levels. That plan won’t be possible in all markets, but Holden’s powertrain and suspension work could prove very valuable for GM.
If the Holden Cruze SS does make it to production don’t expect it any sooner than the end of the year. Till then check back for more info as it becomes available.
March 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
General Motors has just revealed the first details and images of it’s next-generation midsize ute truck. Ahead of an official unveiling at the Bangkok Auto Show GM has revealed the new ute in Chevrolet Colorado form but expect a new re-badged Holden Colorado in the future.
The concept truck is an extended-cab mid-size ute which features a prominent grille, polished aluminum accents, and LED-infused headlights. Elsewhere, there’s a body-color tonneau cover and 20-inch alloy wheels with Cooper Zeon off-road tyres.
Like the next-gen Ford Ranger the styling of GM’s new ute is sure to stir some controversy as all the best and worst designs do. But Chevrolet’s global vehicle line executive Brad Merkel said of the design, “Although this is a show vehicle, the basic proportions convey the vision for the next-generation Colorado that we will bring to market.”
The Colorado in concept form features a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine, five-speed manual transmission 20-inch wheels and all-wheel drive.
The Colorado cabin was an area of criticism for the current model and that has been addressed with the new concept vehicle. The interior is apparently high quality and has a motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster, leather seats, dark wood trim, and chrome accents. Other highlights include a dual-zone climate control system and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen display. Continue reading “GM previews next global ute with Colorado concept” »
March 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Holden has just released the first images of the upcoming 2012 Cruze hatchback.
The all-new Cruze hatch is set to go into production at Holden‟s Vehicle Operations in South Australia later this year.
The hatchback variant of the Cruze was designed by Holden‟s Port Melbourne design studio and will be sold as the Holden Cruze in New Zealand and as a Chevrolet Cruze around the world.
It’s a modern looking machine with a sweeping coupe roofline and short overhangs. It was first shown as a concept at the Paris Motor Show followed by the Chevrolet production version which made its world premier in Geneva earlier this month.
Holden Design Director, Tony Stolfo, said Cruze hatch highlighted the breadth of skill in the Holden Design Studio.
“The Holden design team works on a range of global design projects from small hatchbacks like the new Cruze to large wheel drive performance vehicles and also a number of exciting vehicles yet to be revealed,” Mr Stolfo said. “In designing the new five-door hatch we wanted to retain the sporty Cruze proportions and bring the same Holden appearance to the hatch that we developed for the new Series II Cruze sedan.
“Holden is very proud of the global design work it does for other brands and countries around the GM world – but it’s especially gratifying to work on a new vehicle designed and built in our own back yard.” Continue reading “Holden displays first 2012 Cruze hatchback images” »
March 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
There’s no doubt that a small spark can be a powerful thing. Spark is a vital element of the internal combustion engine and it’s often a small spark that can start the largest fires. But can Holden’s new Barina Spark blaze its way into the affections of small hatch buyers on a budget in NZ, or will it fizzle out? With unique micro-car styling, quirky features and an emphasis on safety the Spark has a good chance of scoring some serious sales. Car and SUV spent a week fanning the flames to see if the Barina Spark will become hot property.
Designed and built in Korea, the Barina Spark is a truly global product for General Motors that will be sold in over 150 countries. Here in NZ, the Spark is the latest in a line of sub-compact hatches Holden has given the Barina badge and sold over the years. How does it stack up? Well, it’s certainly the most striking model to wear the nameplate.
Aimed largely at female buyers the Spark has definite cute appeal but also mixes in many modern, sporty design cues. Like a dog that’s carried in a handbag the Spark’s petite proportions and wide-eyed face will get the ladies swooning. Huge wrap-over Continue reading “Holden Barina Spark 2011 Review” »
March 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Holden has just unveiled its new Aussie-built Series II Cruze sedan range that brings updated styling, new powertrains and a wider range of models.
The new Cruze, built at Holden‟s Vehicle Operations in Elizabeth, South Australia benefits from a multi-million dollar manufacturing and engineering investment.
With powerful, responsive and more fuel-efficient new powertrains, a styling makeover, wider model choices and keen pricing, Holden‟s “big small car‟ is attempting to build on the platform laid by its predecessor in 2010.
Two new sports models are included in the new line up the Cruze SRi and range topping Cruze SRi-V will now feature alongside the Cruze CDX and Cruze CD.
The increased range boasts an all-new 1.4 litre intelligent turbo induction (1.4 iTi) petrol engine with variable valve timing which returns fuel economy of 6.4 litres per 100km using manual models.
Meanwhile the 1.8 litre DOHC powerplant, already available on Cruze CD and CDX today, delivers fuel economy of 7 litres per 100km.
The 1.4 iTi motor will feature on the Cruze SRi and SRi-V and comes with the fittment of Watts link performance suspension resulting in more controlled handling qualities. The four-cylinder 1.4 iTi produces peak power of 103 kW at 4900 rpm and peak torque of 200 Nm between 1850-4900 rpm. Continue reading “Holden reveals updated Series II Cruze – on sale April” »
February 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Holden’s Calais has always been an interesting prospect particularly in V8 form. Like a nightclub bouncer wearing a three-piece suit, there are two distinct sides to the picture. The Calais represents Holden’s luxury Commodore offering but also has the brawny V8 powerplant shared with the more sports focused SS. High-spec trim, loads of equipment and eight-cylinder performance haven’t always stitched together tidily for Holden, but this Calais could be different. With the recent Series II upgrades and in its highest spec V-Series Redline Edition form this Calais is certainly ready to impress. Car and SUV gained entry to Holden’s opulent saloon to find out more.
Externally, the Calais has always been lower key than some of its Commodore stablemates, that hasn’t changed with the Series II model. It has a nicely rounded, less-is-more look that skips the bulky body kit and boot spoiler. Instead, a premier feel is largely created by subtle chrome trim around the window line and in the door handles and other areas. The Series II updates focus mostly on the Calais front end where new headlights, lower air intake and a blinging grille look modern and classy. Being a Redline Edition our test vehicle had 19-inch polished alloy wheels that packed the pumped guards nicely and combined with the Redline badging let all know that this is one chic Commodore. Continue reading “Holden Calais V-Series Redline Edition 2011 Review” »
February 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Holden has unveiled its new Series II Captiva range just over a week before it goes on sale in NZ on March 1st. During a press event in Australia’s Yarra Valley Holden officially revealed the facelifted Series II Captiva and let keen journalists have some time behind the wheel.
Both the Captiva 5 and the larger Captiva 7 has received a interior and exterior styling tweaks and the range gets new powertrains with modern petrol and diesel engines mated to six-speed transmissions. These changes will combine to give the Series II Captiva even wider appeal.
The higher-performing new generation petrol and diesel engines combined with strongly competitive pricing is the big story for the updated Captiva. There’s more power on tap across the range, complemented by fuel efficiency gains on all models.
The seven-seat Captiva 7 range now offers three new powertrain options including a price-leading 2.4 litre four-cylinder petrol variant, a 2.2 litre turbo diesel and the Commodore-proven, Australian-built 3.0 litre Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) V6.
Captiva 5 buyers get the choice of a turbo diesel powerplant for the first time while refinements to all Series II models mean quieter cabins and improved ride and handling quality. Continue reading “Holden reveals Series II Captiva – on sale in March” »