Spy cameras capture camouflaged Commodore in Sweden.
This is not just another photo of a camouflaged car, it’s next year’s new Holden Commodore – to be known as the VF Commodore - and the images reveal more than you might expect.
Spy photos published in Wheels magazine show us for the first time the next Commodore will be an update of the current car – not an all-new model.
When the VE Commodore was released in 2006 the then boss of Holden Denny Mooney said the VE generation was expected to run “five maybe six years” before being replaced with a cleansheet design.
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But a sequence of significant events has since conspired against the Commodore, making the current generation destined to be one of the longest-running models in Commodore history, and possibly the last as we know it.
The global financial crisis, the bankruptcy and restructure of General Motors, the axing of the Commodore’s US export program and the continuing decline in large-car sales globally mean Holden has not been able to justify investment in big changes.
Although the VE has had a number of minor updates since it was released, it will be seven years old before it is replaced by the VF Commodore in 2013 as a 2014 “model-year” – and even then the only visual changes to the body will be at the front and rear.
Significantly, the core of the car – the doors and roof – will remain unchanged. Even the mirror housings are the same as before.
By comparison, it took just five years for similar sheetmetal changes on the previous generation Commodore, when the model switched from VX to VY in 2002, with a new front- and rear-end appearance. And even that car got new mirrors.
Given that the visual changes are relatively minor, Holden is taking extraordinary lengths to ensure the appearance of the next Commodore remains under wraps – even as the car undergoes stability control testing on ice roads in far away Sweden.
Holden has fitted hand-made temporary headlights and tail-lights under the camouflage of this test mule to keep fans guessing.
However, Holden is also working on changes beneath the surface that will trim weight from the next Commodore and save fuel.
The former Federal Minister for Industry, Kim Carr, and Holden boss Mike Devereux revealed last year the VF Commodore will use aluminium for panels such as the bonnet, said to trim 8kg. The magazine also reports that other structural changes will trim a further 30kg from the car.
Photos show Holden has taken some of the bulge out of the Commodore’s wheel arches to help it slip through the air more efficiently at freeway speeds.
Last year Devereux said the next Commodore would sip about 10 per cent less fuel than current levels, which would edge consumption close to or below 8L/100km, similar to today’s medium-sized sedans and compact soft-roaders.
Meantime Drive understands the next Commodore will also embrace a new electronics system that controls most functions in the car, bringing the Commodore in line with other models in the GM world and opening the vehicle up to new technology such as centre-mounted airbags, a self-parking system and digital radio.
The next Commodore is also understood to be central to reviving Holden’s US export hopes.
Last month, Chevrolet announced it would enter a new model in next year’s Nascar racing series, and that it would have a rear-drive sports sedan in showrooms to coincide with the campaign.
The statement prompted speculation the likely candidate for this car would be the Commodore, badged there as a Chevrolet.
The former boss of Holden Mark Reuss, now in charge of GM in North America, told Drive last year: “Somewhere along the way you’ll get a pretty big Commodore change and if we did (revive the Commodore export program to North America) we would integrate it with those changes.”
I hope they update the interior, VZ/VY interior was way better than the VE.