2003 Sydney Auto Show

October 26, 2003

by Alexander Corne

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Holden stole the Sydney International Motor Show, which opened on October 16, with a radical new production-ready coupe destined to outshine the 350-hp (260kW) 5.7-liter LS1-powered Pontiac GTOs even before the first U.S.-bound cars ship out. The new all-wheel drive Coupe4 is the brainchild of Holden’s go-faster division: Holden Special Vehicles. Power is up to 362 hp (270kW) and drive through the strengthened four-speed auto is split 38 percent front, 62 percent rear, giving the Coupe4 a launch to 100 km/h time of 6.1 seconds on sealed surfaces and an impressive 6.6 seconds on gravel. Australia’s first homegrown all-wheel drive coupe runs 19-inch alloys, a wider track all round, complete with natty wheel arch extensions. A muscular body kit front and rear adds muscle tone without looking garish, and four fat chromed tailpipes complete the look-at-me image.

Holden CEO Peter Hanenberger denied the body kit would be fitted to the 2004 Pontiacs to counter the ‘jelly bean’ critiques leveled at the sleek coupe, designed to resurrect the GTO nameplate in the U.S. Hanenberger, who retires late this year, says up to 200 of the Coupe4 models will be built next year priced about US$60,000, though there are no export plans in the frame — yet. However exports of the regular Holden Monaro to the United Kingdom will start later this year, the Holden Lion replaced by the Vauxhall Griffin badge. Asked how many cars would go to the U.K., where it will be sold in a premium market segment, Mr Hanenberger said: “If we do above 1000 it would be a dream (come true). We don’t need big volumes as a global niche manufacturer to be profitable and successful.”

2004 Holden HSV Avalanche

2004 Holden HSV Avalanche

Enlarge Photo
Holden Special Vehicles also revealed a four-wheel-drive crossover performance wagon, the Avalanche, at the show — again utilizing the LS1 5.7-liter engine tuned to produce 362 hp and 475 N-m of torque. The aggressively styled five-seater wagon is the pumped-up brother to Holden’s Adventra, which goes on sale in Australia later this year. HSV will build just 500 Avalanches next year, with performance claimed to deliver zero-to-100 km/h-to-zero times of 8.5 seconds, despite its two tonne curb weight. With almost eight inches of ground clearance (200 mm), and the same 38/62 drive torque split as the Coupe4, the Avalanche will be a formidable contender for performance enthusiasts who revel in the rough.

The HSV Avalanche will be specified to match luxury European off-roaders with high intensity discharge lamps, tire-pressure monitoring systems and on-board DVD entertainment systems, as well as leather sports seats.



Holden hopes for bilateral bliss

General Motors’ Australian brand Holden eagerly anticipated U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit Down Under country this past week when, it was hoped, the presidential push for a bilateral trade agreement will speed up the so-far long drawn-out process.

Holden is poised to ship its first batch of Pontiac GTO-badged LS1-powered Coupes to the U.S., but has several more models in the pipeline. Next up would be the replacement for the Chevrolet El Camino, based on Holden’s in-house V-8-powered Utility. Holden CEO Peter Hanenberger says it would be next to go should the U.S. “Chicken Tax,” which loads a 25-percent duty on imported utes, be waived under a new BTA. A BTA with Thailand is also in the mix, a new market Holden has just declared for its rear-wheel drive Commodore V-6 and V-8 sedans, which currently face an 80 percent import duty. Conversely, utilities made by GM in Thailand attract a five percent tariff slug entering Australia.

Mr. Hanenberger would not be drawn on the future prospects of next generation VE Commodore sedans or derivatives providing the underpinnings for future GM North America products, or for European markets for that matter, but the new vehicles, due late in 2005 in Australia will supply their chassis componentry to a range of GM’s larger vehicles towards the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, Holden’s all-new engine factory in Melbourne is set to start production of the High Feature V-6 engine family on October 29. First recipients of the engines will be Buick Rendezvous SUVs, with Saab, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and other GM brands queuing up for the engines. Holden won’t get to use the HFV6 derivatives until this time next year for the final iteration of the VT Commodore series, dubbed VZ. The HF V-6 will be fitted to all Holden products from early 2005.

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