GM Holden is playing on everything from patriotism to nostalgia to get Australian motorists into what was once a locally built icon, but now is a German import.
“Your grandparents had one, so did your parents, and now it’s your turn,” the company says as it gets set to launch the all-new ʼ18 Commodore.
The latest iteration of the nameplate, being released this month, is based on the German-made Opel Insignia that is smaller than the previous Aussie-built version.
This means Holden’s longtime rivalry with the Ford Falcon in the large-car segment is over and it will be going up against the likes of the midsize Mazda6, Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.
For GM Holden Lead Dynamics Engineer Rob Trubiani, who has been responsible for the way Commodores drive for the past 22 years, this time around was the most critical assignment ever – making sure the German version felt like a true Aussie Commodore.
“We’ve been working with the GM team in Europe for a few years to make sure all of the elements of Commodores are present in this car, but when it comes to how it feels, that’s work we have to do here,” Trubiani says in a statement.
“Australians have different driving tastes to Europeans and Americans,” he says. “Here we like cars to feel more connected to the road and more engaging to drive. It’s all about road feel and steering.”
The new Commodore does not have the traditional rear-wheel drive and is powered by an adaptive all-wheel-drive system.
“We’ve developed an Australian suspension tune that works unique Holden hardware in the shape of struts and shocks to make sure the new Commodore feels as planted as ever,” Trubiani says. “Then, add in the adaptive AWD system and it feels so well-planted it could be running on tram tracks.”
Commodore employs three different suspension settings depending on the role of the vehicle.
Building on extensive testing and tuning carried out at GM Holden’s Lang Lang proving grounds, GM Holden engineers have driven 125,000 miles (200,000 km) on local roads as part of a Captured Test Fleet (CTF) program, designed to evaluate everyday driving performance.
Commodore’s program consisted of more than 30 pre-production vehicles with GM Holden employees jumping at the chance to test the car.
“The CTF program is a great way for us to check those day-to-day issues that annoy us all. Things like poor radio reception, squeaks and rattles,” said Holden’s Product Development Quality Manager Paul Sbrissa.