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Air, Apparent.

A band called “The Hollies” released a song in the mid 1970s called “(All I Need Is)The Air That I Breathe“. We humans breathe air. It’s made up of 78% nitrogen which is an inert (doesn’t react with anything) gas, oxygen at 21%, 0.93% argon and various other gases. CO2 or carbon dioxide is measured to be around 0.04%. It’s the oxygen and CO2 that we carbon based lifeforms worry about the most. But what does it mean when it comes to those other living, breathing things called cars?

Bugger all actually. Cars breathe in air via intakes or through air filters in pre- fuel injected cars via carbies. At the other end comes out CO2 and a smattering of other gases, and that’s the cycle of life. BUT, have you ever tried to push a car with a flat tyre? Yup, air inside comes out and makes rolling a car near nigh impossible. So we fill them with air and away we go.Air, I hear you ask? But that nice man at the service and tyre shop said I should get nitrogen in my tyres, right? Well, in a way, by using air you’ve already got nitrogen. 80%, remember?
But he said it’ll reduce wear and tear on my tyres? Well, no. The biggest cause of wear and tear on tyres is how we drive the cars that use them. If we also don’t check the pressures, so if the tyres are over or under inflated, either of these contributes to wear and tear. When air goes in (80% nitrogen, remember) and the pressures are right, then wear and tear should only be dependent on how you drive.

He also said that nitrogen improves ride quality? Ride quality is dependent on tyre pressure, springs and shocks working properly, road surfaces…you get the picture. So if your air filled tyres are at the right pressure, then ride quality remains the same irrespective of 80 or 100 percent nitrogen.

I’m sensing a pattern here. He also said that by using nitrogen it’ll make the tyre run cooler? Hmm, a toughie….ah…nup. It’s the moisture content of the air, so in fact, if you use dry normal compressed air, it’ll also run cooler., as long as, again, it’s at the correct pressure and the tyre isn’t overloaded.

So, the bottom line, if I’m charged five or ten bucks per tyre to get nitrogen in, I’m just wasting money? In a nitrogen filled nutshell, yep. Don’t waste your money and say no to nitrogen.

Hyundai Santa Fe Unveiled For 2018

Hyundai have released some details of its new for 2018 Santa Fe. Notable changes include a restyled front end, linking the big SUV to its slightly newer and smaller brethren, the Kona. There’s the upper level LED driving lights, mid level headlights that are in a separate cluster and set deep into their own scalloped section on the extremeties of the bumper. A restyled “Cascading Grille” is also featured. At 4770mm in length, a breadth of 1890mm, and an increased wheelbase, the Santa fe stamps itself firmly as the leader of Hyundai cars.

Inside it’s a complete makeover, with a sweeping line to the upper dash section, air vent designs not unlike those found in upper level European luxury cars. The dash and console are broader in look, with a more concise and intense look to the centre touchscreen and climate control section.

Safety details in full haven’t yet been released, however it is known that Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist is on board. It will recognise oncoming traffic from the side and wil automatically apply brakes if required.

More details will be released by Hyundai closer to its expected launch in late February and is due in Australia in mid 2018.

Ford Ranger Raptor Ready To Strike.

Long talked about…well, since the new look Ranger was released a couple of years ago, a performance version has been released. Taking an already assertive machine and making it look even more angry is not always easy yet somehow the Ford designers and engineers have done so. Here’s a brief look at the 2018 Ford Ranger Raptor.Engine.
A 2.0L diesel has been massaged to produce an astonishing 500Nm of torque, with a peak power output of 157kW. The twin turbo beat was tested to its limits, with a non-stop run of 200 hours. A small HP (High Pressure) turbo kicks off before a larger LP (Low Pressure) turbo takes over. A new ten speed auto, designed and built by Ford in-house, along with revamped electronics, has quicker, crisper, shifts, and promises even better economy. There’s two on road modes, Normal and Sport, plus Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock, and Baja. It’s that last one that has eyebrows and corners of mouths raised. Ford says: Vehicle responsiveness is tuned for high-speed off-road performance, just like drivers need in the famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back in terms of intervention to allow spirited off-road driving without fighting the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimized for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.Looks.
A bespoke Ford logo grille now sits front and centre. It sits atop a frame mounted bumper, which houses new LED fog lamps and air-curtain ducts to help reduce aire resistance at speed. The front fenders are made of a composite material, and are oversized to deal with off road excursions and suspension travel. It’s an impressive size; it stands 1873mm high, spans 2180mm in width and is an impressive 5398mm in length. Ground clearance is 283 mm, with approach and departure angles of 32.5 and 24 degrees enabling superior off road accessibility.

There’s solid looking side steps, specially designed and engineered to help stop rocks being sprayed backwards from the front tyres and are cut to allow water drainage.Made from an aluminuim alloy, they’re durable and tough. These also were tested hard, with loads of 100 kilograms being applied 84,000 times to simulate a decade’s worth of exposure to usage. They’re powder-coated before a grit paint for extra durability is applied.

The rear bumper has been modified to include a towbar and two recovery hooks which will hold 3.8 tonnes. Parking sensors are flush in the bumper, which backs a tray of 1560mm x 1743mm. Exterior colours are: Lightning Blue, Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White, as well as a unique Hero color for the Ranger Raptor, Conquer Grey. Contrasting Dyno Grey accents helps to accentuate the vehicle’s look even further.Inside.
This has been overhauled with a smooth and refined look, coming under the umbrella of Ford Performance DNA. The seats are the starting point, with a redesign and change of material being tested in long distance rallies. They’re tailored for high speed work in an off-road environment. The material inside is of a dual layer hardness, providing both comfort and support in their intended environments.
The dash and steering wheel have been redesigned, with the Driver Assistance features being easily read in the binnacle and magnesium paddles for the driver’s column. There’s a touch of high speed assistance in one key area; a red stripe has been applied to the leather bound wheel, intended to confirm for the driver that the steering is “On Centre”.Underneath.
The off-road racing pedigree is evident in a chassis made from various grades of high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel and designed for that purpose. There’s coilover rear shocks, a Watt’s Link rear and solid rear axle. The chassis side rails are also HSLA. There’s a redesigned front end to deal with the strengthened higher profile shock towers. At the front, twin-piston calipers have been increased by 9.5mm in diameter, while the ventilated rotors are an impressive 332 x 32mm in size. At the rear, Ranger Raptor comes with disc brakes with a brake actuation master cylinder and booster to increase braking performance. The 332 x 24mm rear rotor is ventilated and coupled with a new 54mm caliper. These are housed inside new for Raptor BF Goodrich 285/70R17 rubber.It’s not yet known when exactly in 2018 the Ford Ranger Raptor will be available although it’s fair to surmise it’ll be within the first half of 2018.

Peugeot 5008 Released In Australia For 2018.

Peugeot‘s continued revamp sees a new from the ground up 5008 released to the Australian market in January 2018. It’s built on the PSA Groups award winning EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform 2) that underpins the 308 and 3008 vehicles. The Peugeot 5008 is available from a recommended retail price of $42,990 for the Allure, $46,990 for GT Line and $52,990 for the flagship GT. It’s a solid, bluff, no nonsense look to the 5008, and brings the bigger SUV into line with the family look of the 2008 and 3008. As has been the choice from the design team, there’s a distinct look of difference between the Allure models, GT Line and GT models which feature sporty design elements including: Peugeot equaliser grille, bespoke front bumper and lights, sporty amplified engine note, exclusive interior trim and steering wheel, red instrument illumination, and exclusive GT-Line or GT badging.

There’s a choice of two engines; the grunty 1.6L petrol engine for Allure and GT-Line, and the torquey 2.0L diesel for the GT. The turbo petrol offers an impressive 240 Nm at 1600 rpm, with the diesel an even more resounding 400 Nm at 2000 rpm. Both power down via a six speed auto and are good for a zero to one hundred time of just over ten seconds. It’s reasonable but not great for the 1473 kilo (dry) Allure/GT-Line and 1575 kilo (dry) GT. Economy figures look good too, with the petrol engine quoted as 7.0 to 7.3L per 100 km, and the diesel at 4.8L/100 km from a 56L tank. That petrol figure is Grip Control dependent, with that system being the drive modes available including Mud, Snow, Sand, Normal, and ESC Off.There’s plenty of standard features starting with the Allure, including dual zone and rear seat climate control, Driver Attention Alert, Distance Alert, Autonomous Emergency Braking, LED interior lighting, DAB, wireless charging for smartphone, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ISOFIX mounting points in the second and third row seats, tray tables on the seat backs, and Auto headlights. The GT-Line and GT naturally go up a notch with Automatic Engine Braking, Active Blind Spot Warning and Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, foot operated tailgate, and more.The interior is completely revamped and is built around the i-Cockpit theme seen in the 2008 and 3008. There’s also a new setup, the i-Cockpit Amplify. A button push brings in a change to light intensity and screen colour, releases scents, activates a seat massage program, and changes audio settings. There’s two settings, Relax, and Boost.

Tyres and wheels vary slightly; it’s 225/55/18 on board for the Allure/GT-Line and 235/50/19s for the GT. As standard. If the Grip Control system is optioned, it’s the smaller combo with Mud and Snow tyres. All three trim levels will ride on a suspension of pseudo MacPherson struts and coil springs up front and a “twist beam” rear axle. This is housed inside a 4641 mm long body and a 2840 mm wheelbase. Height is a decent 1646 mm and the 5008 spans 1844 mm.The 2018 Peugeot 5008 is available now. Head to Peugeot Australia to enquire directly.

Mazda SUVs Records More Growth.

Mazda‘s CX series had a redesign and introduced a new addition to the family with the diesel powered CX-8 in 2017. They’ve combined to give the Japanese brand some great sales figures for January 2018. The CX label has also accounted for just under 45% of Mazda sales in total.

In total 10113 variants of a CX vehicle were sold in the month. Even allowing for a public holiday or two, that’s over three hundred per day. It’s the CX-5 leading the charge, with figures of 2152, making it the number 1 SUV for the month. Nipping at its rubber heels is the CX-3, moving 1582. Respectively that’s an increase of 11.9% and 6.5%. However these are overshadowed by the 27.9% increase for the big seven seater CX-9. That sold 770 units.

Mazda Australia Managing Director, Vinesh Bhindi, said the result sets a promising outlook for the year to come. “Mazda’s class-leading SUV range continues to entice buyers and satiate their needs in a new car, offering style, performance and value. The latest VFACTS results project a great 2018 for Mazda and strong momentum for our SUV range, which will be bolstered further when we introduce the Mazda CX-8 in the second half of the year.” he said.

Contact Mazda via Mazda Australia for more details, and register your interest in the forthcoming CX-8 which is due for release in mid 2018.

Hyundai Showcases Self Driving Fuel Cell Powered Cars.

Autonomous driving is one thing. Using an alternative fuel source is another. Hyundai has combined the two in a stunning display. A convoy of self driving vehicles powered by   technology has driven a 190 kilometre long route between Seoul and Pyeongchang in Korea.

At speeds between 100 to 110 kmh, five vehicles navigated themselves with the only human intervention being at the beginning and end of the journey. Three vehicles are the next generation of SUV called NEXO, with the other two vehicles being based on the Genesis.

Fitted with the current international standard for autonomous driving, Level 4, plus the latest 5G telecommunications tech, February 2 was the start date for the tour. After both the Cruise and Set buttons inside were pressed on the autonomous driving configured steering wheel, the cars immediately went into self drive mode. Lane changes, toll booth entry and exit, even overtaking moves, were executed solely by the on board systems.

The cars themselves aren’t that different from a “normal” street version but are fitted with cameras and LIDAR plus the embedded sensors in the cars themselves.

The fuel cell side sees the NEXO cars able to travel up to six hundred kilometres on a single charge, with a refuel taking under five minutes. An efficiency level of sixty percent is equivalent, currently, to normal fuel vehicles.

Hyundai itself is readying to have autonomous vehicles on road by 2021 for “smart cities“, along with announcing a partnership with American based autonomous driving startup Aurora Technologies, with a full release of autonomous driving capable vehicles by 2030.

Tracks To Follow: Ripsaw.

In a car based culture it’s understandable to overlook that there are other ways of motorvating yourself around. No, we’re not talking boats or bikes or hovercraft. They’ve been done.What we’re talking about is a tracked vehicle. You know, like tank tracks. American based company Howe and Howe Tech has the answer. Enter, stage left, the Ripsaw.
The easiest way to view this in your head is like this: think of a tank, take away the body and turret, replace it with something vaguely resembling a car body and that, in essence, is the Ripsaw. The vehicle is available in four specification levels and be warned, if you ask for the EV2 or EV3 (EV stands for Extreme Vehicles, by the way) it will take the firm around the six month mark to build. There’s the EV2, and now the EV3 in three levels, being the F1, F2, and F4. Simply put, they’re built to carry one, two, or four people.Price? Upwards of a half million US dollars.

But what do you get for your hard earned? Well, you can go for a powerplant that’s either petrol or diesel, and choose a power range that can go to 1000hp or 1500hp depending on an oiler or gasoline engine. You’ll get sixteen inches of suspension travel and air suspension for the cabin. There’s a choice of one or two 32 gallon fuel tanks in the F1, with 85 gallons in the heavier F4, which provide a range of up to 250 miles.Originally designed to be a small and fast attack vehicle, the Ripsaw was quickly (pun only slightly intended) recognised as being a worthwhile base upon which to build a luxury oriented vehicle. And by using both in-house supplied and readily available commercial truck parts, repairs and spares are easily performed and obtainable.Built with military grade tracks, going off-road is as easily done as thinking about it. With a low centre of gravity and that torque, angles of fifty five degrees are achievable, as long as you have a strong stomach.

Should your bank manager be agreeable, here’s some video of what the Ripsaw can do: Ripsaw on The Grand Tour
Official Ripsaw Footage

The vehicle also featured in the Fast and Furious 8 film.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander LS PHEV

PHEV. It’s short, sharp, sounds like an ex AFL player but with vastly more substance. It stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. In layman’s terms, it’s an electrically powered car that you can plug in to your home power system to charge a battery inside the car. What it doesn’t tell you is that the petrol engine that’s also fitted can be used as a generator and that the brakes can be used to harvest the kinetic energy generated and recharge the battery on the go. Private Fleet trundles the Mitsubishi Outlander LS PHEV from the lower Blue Mountains to Temora, in the central west of NSW, via Bathurst, and home via Yass and Goulburn. It’s readily identifiable as a PHEV thanks to the three subtle (ahem) badges on the rear door and front flanks.Oh, there’s a Tesla style fast charge port so you achieve approximately 80 percent full charge from empty in just half an hour, as long as you have the appropriate equipment, including the transformer the PHEV comes with for the everyday single phase household which is best left overnight to really give the “tank” a full charge. Hence the Plug-in part of the name.Mitsubishi currently only have the Outlander as a hybrid vehicle and it’s a kinda cool one with three distinct hybrid modes, EV, Series, and Parallel modes. When the EV Mode is chosen you’re driving purely on battery power alone. You can also drive with the 2.0L petrol engine as a charging unit or as a paired situation where the petrol engine kicks in as required. Transmission is a single or fixed speed transaxle unit.

There’s a big silver EV button in the centre console or two buttons either side of the jet fighter Drive selector (no gears as such) marked Save or CHRG. Save turns off the electric option and runs purely on the petrol powerplant, the other is self explanatory.When fully charged, the battery indicator shows a range of around fifty kilometres. If you accelerate ssssllllooooowwwwllllyyyyy it will stay on battery only but give it a reasonable prod and the petrol engine cuts in. On battery it’s an eerie almost silence, with a barely audible whir as the PHEV wafts away. The petrol engine is isolated, muted, and there’s hardly a vibration in the body to alert you to it being engaged. The computer programing is seamless, as is the actual switching between modes, and the whole system is intuitive.Fuel consumption is still…..well, a concern. Mitsubishi’s refinement to the overall system now rate consumption as 1.7L of 91RON per 100 kilometres. That’s certainly achievable on virtually purely electric runs that cover no more than maybe fifteen kilometres or so. A Wheel Thing finished, after a week and well over 1000 kilometres, closer to 9.5L/100 kilometres. That’s from a 45L tank. Overall power is rated at 120 kW and that’s for the two electric motors fitted, one for the rear and one for the front wheels, which out put a total of 120 kW and 332 Nm. Mitsubishi says 6.5 hours for a full charge to the battery using the charger on a standard household supply.

The petrol engine is rated for a fairly measley 87 kW, but a better torque figure is usable at 186 Nm @ 4500 rpm. It’s also worth noting that you can effectively have the PHEV as an AWD or All Wheel Drive vehicle by the simple expedient of pushing a clearly marked 4WD button in the centre console.The drive west from the lower Blue Mountains sees the westbound highway rise by some five hundred metres vertically over a horizontal distance of perhaps eighty kilometres, before dropping drastically at the western edge to the Hartley Valley from Mt Victoria via one of the most picturesque yet narrow roads around. It’s here that you can tip the drive selector into B3 or B5, two different braking modes to harvest the kinetic energy, and add extra range back into the battery system. The brake pedal itself is slightly numb also but not so enough to isolate feedback to your foot when generating energy on a downhill run where the braking modes don’t slow the car enough.

There’s a couple of steepish climbs before entering Lithgow, the home of famed Australian runner Marjorie Jackson, before a reasonably flat run to Bathurst, and from here to the WW2 prison town of Cowra, where a number of Japanese prisoners staged a breakout. The roads were flat, surprisingly smooth, allowing the PHEV to build up speed slowly in order to not punch a hole in the range availability. The PHEV was also predisposed to understeer, not uncontrollable, but easier where safe to allow the nose to run wide and follow its own path. The steering itself was numb to the point of disconnection on centre, with an artificial feel to the travel either side.

On the more rough tarmac surfaces in the central west of NSW there was noticeable road noise from the 225/55/18 Toyo A25 rubber, which also didn’t look as if they’d fit the wheel well, with plenty of room between the lining and the rubber. The suspension itself is tuned somewhere between taut and not quite so taut, with initial give before firming up rapidly. Adding to the ride query is an overly short front suspension travel, a trait found in some other cars where riding over a school lane speed hump at exactly the legal speed has a crash thump that sounds as if the struts are about to pull out from the body mounts. It’s disconcerting and at odds with the mooted soft road ability the Outlander is marketed with. On the upside directional changes are dealt with well, on smooth roads, with a centre of gravity well below the driver’s seat meaning body roll is minimal.Economy here varied between 4.0L/100 km where the Charge tab was engaged, as once underway the drain on the system isn’t aware as much (naturally) as accelerating constantly. There’s a centre of dash display, as is standard in all Outlanders, in this case showing the range from purely battery and both battery and fuel. In Temora itself, the car was charged up overnight. The purpose of visiting Temora was to watch their Remembrance Day airshow, as Temora is a former working WW2 airforce base and home to aircraft such as a Gloster Meteor, Spitfire, Hudson, and more. The show itself was a quickish 3.5 hours but wrapped with the tarmac being opened for visitors being able to meet the pilots including Red Bull Air Race and former RAAF pilot, Matt Hall.An overnight charge has the battery in the PHEV topped up and Sunday’s return trip via the township of Harden (seriously), via Yass and along the monumentally boring Hume Highway past Goulburn. The roads here were again most straight and corners rated between 75 to 95 kmh meaning that most of them were well within the abilities of the drivetrain to gently ease off and gently accelerate up.

Straight line stability in the Outlander is wonderful, lateral stability not so, with both front and rear, time and again, skipping left and right on rutted and broken surfaces. There’s an instant feeling of uncertainty before either corner cocks a leg and then there’s the sideways movement. A quick lift of the right foot, the chassis regathers its thoughts, and it’s business as usual. In the greater scheme of things it’s a minor annoyance but shows that underneath it’s not quite as settled compared to some of its rivals.Final consumption figures are a long way from the claimed 1.7L/100 km which would be spot on for short distance, flat road, driving. But along the way you can enjoy the decently velour covered comfortable seats, the DAB equipped sound system, with plenty of punch and clarity. Being a largish SUV (call it 4.8 metres in length) means plenty of head (1030 mm), leg (1039 mm for the front), shoulder (1437 mm), and cargo space, with the five seater allowing 477 litres. There’s a parcel shelf that covers the spare and has a small locker for the charge cable. However the dash and overall cabin presence is dating and needs a makeover to bring it up to the perceived level of quality as seen in the Korean and European rivals. Outside it’s no different, apart from the badging, to the currently design ethos of Mitsubishi, with the broad and chromed “Shield” nose, curvaceous body that would shame some super models, and a rounded in profile but square from the rear…rear.You’ll not want for safety in the form of airbags, hill start assist, and the basic traction control systems, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and something called an Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System….what you don’t get is satnav, as the seven inch touchscreen interface has apps for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, has GPS, but not a navigation facility.At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing Mitsubishi didn’t list a price for the PHEV on their website, stating it was “Price on application”. Given the standard Outlander range starts at $27990 and goes up to $47990 for the Exceed version (also available as a PHEV) it’d be fair to say somewhere in the mid $30K bracket for the LS. It’s different in that you get a petrol power generator and a back up driver unit at that, with the main focus being that it’s a plug in unit and less reliant on the petrol engine. The fact that it’s a SUV is also different, with very, very few other companies offering anything similar and bear in mind the Outlander isn’t aimed at the luxury car market.

Unfortunately that shows up mostly in the interior, and on road the unsettled feeling it exhibits just a little too often. Measured up, on these two standards, against the Santa Fe, Sorento, Fortuner, and the Euros such as the Tiguan, its lagging. Where it scores the brownie points is in the drive tech, so click here: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for specific information and contact your local dealer for pricing.

 

Car Of The Year Awards Surprise From News Corp.

As we head towards the end of 2017 the awards season for cars gets under way and some of Australia’s biggest media groups roll out their list of contenders for the gongs in various categories. News Corporation, the company behind CarsGuide, has released their list of finalists for their COTY awards and there’s no surprises in that the two Korean brands feature two of the more newsworthy cars of recent weeks. It’s no surprise that no Australian built cars feature but it is a surprise that there’s just two European brands in the mix…bear in mind that this is the view of this news group and it’s worth looking out for the lists from the other news groups.From Korea comes the monster killing Hyundai i30 with the comments of: Loads of standard equipment, confident roadholding and a five-year warranty. There’s also the Kia Picanto, the good looking small hatch with: value-for-money hatchback that’s well equipped and suited to city living. Kia also lobs out the polarising (to Holden and Ford fans) Stinger: Old-school, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan with room for five and a twin-turbo V6.

Audi is one of the two European entries, with News Corp choosing the new Q5: German precision engineering matched to a frugal diesel engine and cutting edge safety. Japan is the country of  origin for the rest of the finalists and it’s an eclectic mix, starting with Suzuki‘s Swift, a fun and funky and frugal little car with New Corp saying: Fun to drive turbo three-cylinder with strong safety package. Next up is Subaru‘s resurgent Impreza, recently tested by Private Fleet’s Dave: Quality cabin and crash-avoidance tech usually reserved for luxury cars.The Japanese onslaught continues with Honda‘s completely revamped Integra range including the fire snorting Type R: Explosive hot hatch with in-your-face styling and a punchy turbo engine. Mazda is in there as well with their mid range CX5: Well priced, stylish cabin design and surprisingly agile for a softroader. Honda throws in another SUV with the CR-V: Spacious, versatile interior, quality finishes and hi-tech feel. Skoda‘s brilliant new Kodiaq is the other European sourced finalist with: clever touches in the cabin, zippy turbo engine and a generous warranty.

The final word goes to Richard Blackburn, motoring editor: “Every year, it’s getting more difficult to separate the best from the rest. Brands that buyers once turned their backs on are now every bit as good as the established players, while safety technology usually reserved for expensive luxury cars is increasingly available on cheap hatchbacks.”

 

Holden: The Day For Closing Is Coming. Part Two.

This is part two of an interview conducted with Holden’s PR guru, Sean Poppitt, before the closure of Holden as a manufacturer of cars and engines in Australia.

Speaking of local products…Keeping the Commodore nameplate has seen plenty of discussion as to whether it should stay or not. What has been Holden’s reason for doing so?
There wasn’t one single thing that drove that decision…there’s a number of different factors we considered…one of the first ones was this: we went out and talked to Commodore owners. We went and talked to non-Commodore owners, and we did a really extensive market research piece, sitting down with customers and non-customers and asking that question. The overwhelming response we got was to keep the name. Of course that doesn’t take anything away from people’s right to have an opinion on this, I would wonder how many of those with a negative opinion are Holden or Commodore owners.

Two, we made sure that we were comfortable that the car did everything a Commodore should do. (It’s here that Sean’s tone changed and he became very thoughtful.) What defines a Commodore? Is it local manufacturing? You could argue that it’s that as every Commodore from the start has been manufactured here. Let’s not forget that the first ever Commodore was…an Australian modified Opel Rekord…which we built…and we’ve come full circle…taking an Opel car and making it a Commodore.One of the great things about keeping our Lang Lang proving grounds is it’s allowed us to have our engineers embedded in that program for six years. There’s been well over one hundred and sixty thousand kilometres of local testing, which has given us a unique suspension tune for every single model, a unique engine and gearbox combination which isn’t available anywhere else in the world. We’re talking the V6 and nine speed auto, the advanced all wheel drive system, the adaptive chassis. If it’s going to be a Commodore we NEED it to be able to do X, Y, and Z. This car has everything the last car did and more, but there isn’t the obvious emotional attachment and nostalgic element to it not being built here.

I don’t want at all to make light or not give the gravity that it’s due to the local manufacturing people and the passion the people had for that, and what it’s meant for this country and this brand…by every conceivable measure, the new car is a better car than the old one.
(Sean’s tone becomes lighter here). We always knew that a front wheel drive four cylinder Commodore was going to raise some eyebrows, we knew that, but the four cylinder turbo is the fastest, most fuel efficient, most powerful base engine we’ve ever had in a Commodore, so by every single possible measure that car will be better than the base Commodore we have here.Outside of your preference for front drive or rear wheel drive, for the diehard performance enthusiast we’re going to have a sports car, or, potentially, sports cars in the not so distant future. It’s important to note that it’s really only in the last eighteen months that the sales of V8s in a Commodore has lifted up so high. Over the last ten years 88% of Commodore sales have been V6s, and of that a vast majority have been SV6s.
With Opel now under the PSA umbrella, does this open up the model range available for Australian buyers?
There’s certainly opportunities. We’ve been very clear that the current Opel products that we’re taking, which includes the next gen Commodore and the current Astra hatch, there will be no change to them over the course of their projected model life. Dan Amman, who’s our global president, said, when we were in Geneva recently that there’s more opportunity for Holden, not less.

At the current time, where does Holden see itself in five years time, especially with the new SUVs and Camaro in the frame?
We made a commitment back in, I believe, 2015, that we would launch 24 new models by 2020, which effectively means we’re revamping or replacing every single vehicle in the Holden line-up. I’d also say that right now we have the best “pound for pound” showroom we’ve ever had. And it’s only going to get better; we’ve got Equinoxe coming in mid November, the next gen Commodore of course, next year there’s the Acadia, which gives us this really filled out SUV portfolio, which is obviously great for us as that’s where the market is going.

Our strength, for a long time, has been in large sedans, which is a shrinking part of the market. The growth in SUVs, we’ve been really well represented there in the past, and we’ve got Trax, we’ve got Trailblazer, and Equinoxe and Acadia to come. Even Colorado, that continues to grow, with every month the figures show an increase in sales. It’s about going where the market goes rather than hanging onto a sector of the market where clearly people have voted with their feet and wallets to not be a part of.

When we made this announcement four years ago, back in 2013 (about ceasing manufacturing), which really raised questions about what does Holden stand for, which did have a shadow hanging over the business in a way, we want to stay and remain a clear and solid number four in the market and stay on track to sell one in ten vehicles sold in this country. I think it’s remarkable, too, that in such a tough period we’re still one of the top players in this country. I also think we’ve got a rare and unique opportunity to honour one hundred and sixty years of history and heritage and make sure that Holden means as much to our grandkids as it did to our grandfathers.(It’s a huge thanks to Sean Poppitt for his time and his candid responses, and since this interview Holden has confirmed the Camaro SS will come to Australia as the “halo” car. It also officially unveiled the 2018 Commodore which, effectively, confirms for Commodore the SS badging is no longer…)