Here we go again. After the back-and-forth drama surrounding the future of the Holden Commodore in the U.S. market, new reports suggest General Motors is, in fact, seriously looking at selling the rear-wheel-drive sedan in North America as a Chevrolet.
If the notion sounds familiar, it should. Shortly after the sublime G8 was axed as a byproduct of Pontiac’s death, GM car czar Bob Lutz told us that the car, sold in Australia as a Chevrolet, was “too good to waste,” and would be sold through U.S. Chevy dealers as a Caprice. It didn’t take long for PR reps and other executives to quickly backpedal — then-CEO Fritz Henderson turned down the idea, stating he wasn’t a fan of rebadging it as a Chevy.
The truth lurked between those two extremes. Holden’s Caprice, a long-wheelbase version of the Commodore, joins Chevrolet’s portfolio later this year as a police cruiser, but isn’t available to the general public. As such, this leaves a hole in GM’s performance car portfolio, and product planners are beginning to look for ways to fill it. Could a Chevrolet-badged Commodore fit the bill?
Perhaps. We’ve previously heard GM president (and former Holden boss) Mark Reuss is an advocate of the idea, but a new report from Australian newspaper The Age suggests such wheels are already turning.
“What we are looking at is bridging a gap in the performance sedan market that was vacated by the Pontiac G8,” GM senior engineer Al Oppenheiser told The Age. “With no Pontiac, the obvious performance brand is Chevrolet.”
There’s more logic in the idea than simply giving American buyers and Chevy dealers a hairy, V-8, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan. The death of the G8 severely impacted Holden’s production facility near Adelaide, as the division had previously planned to export nearly 30,000 Pontiacs each year. The loss reportedly shorts Holden nearly $1 billion in annual revenue, which is especially painful, considering the $77 million spent to ready the plant for the left-hand-drive production run.
It wouldn’t be all that hard to ready the Commodore for Chevrolet’s use in the U.S. Most of the extensive engineering to convert the car to left-hand-drive has already been performed, and other details — notably ensuring lamps and other subsystems meet FMVSS requirements — could be tackled by using G8 parts or designs. Additionally, Holden exports the Commodore to the Middle East as the Chevrolet Lumina — if GM brass don’t push for a complete exterior refresh, the grille and bumper fascia (with some modifications) could be used to quickly ready a bow-tie model for the States.
If approved, the U.S.-spec Chevy Commodore could be sold with the same engines once used in the G8 range. The standard 3.6-liter V-6 was good for 256 horsepower, while the 6.0-liter V-8 delivered 361 horsepower. G8 GXPs were fitted with the 6.2-liter LS3 V-8, and was rated at 415 horsepower. That’s certainly plenty of power, but if product planners feel there’s a business case, the 556-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 — which currently powers the Cadillac CTS-V range — could also be squeezed underhood.
We’d wager the four-door sedan is certainly under consideration for our market, but variants of the Commodore could also be under consideration as well. At one time, GM considered selling the Commodore Wagon under the Pontiac brand, and actually came close to selling the Commodore Ute pickup as the G8 Sport Truck. Of those two, we think the latter would be more likely to come stateside. Not only would it help Chevy’s CAFE ratings (if classified as a truck), but it would also make for a perfect comeback for the El Camino nameplate.
What say you? Should the Commodore appear in Chevy’s portfolio ASAP, or does it need a head-to-toe makeover? What engines would you like to see fitted? Would a wagon or small pickup variant make sense in the United States? Sound off in the comments section below.
Source: The Age