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Enemy within stalks Commodore

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Enemy within stalks Commodore

Drive has learned exclusively that the Epica replacement, codenamed V300 within General Motors, will share underpinnings with the Chevrolet Malibu, which is being developed in Detroit.

Both cars will be built from the same platform as the award-winning Opel Insignia mid-size sedan (pictured).

The Holden version will be built in Korea by GM Daewoo and differ only in styling detail; the Australian version will get a unique Holden front end, as the Epica does now.

The Malibu is a big car — the current generation measures nearly 4.9 metres long — that encroaches on Commodore territory in the same way the latest Ford Mondeo sits close to the Blue Oval's locally built large car, the Falcon.

The flexibility of the Insignia platform means the V300 could come to Australia with the choice of four or six-cylinder engines; petrol, diesel or even plug-in hybrid; and front- or all-wheel drive.

Holden chairman and managing director Alan Batey confirmed Holden had started product planning for the V300 and was conscious of maintaining separation with Commodore.

"We will position V300 to make sure it has got a very compelling customer offering, whether that's from technology, powertrains and positioning, so we don't sit a large medium-sized car on top of a large car," Mr Batey said.

"We need to be really careful. The two things that really differentiate [V300 and Commodore] are it's a front-wheel-drive car versus a rear-wheel-drive car and, secondly, the powertrain opportunities V300 provides."

That means diesel — already offered with the Epica (and Cruze small car) — and, potentially, a hybrid. Neither option is expected for Commodore before the middle of the next decade.

"You can't dismiss those things," Mr Batey said. "With fuel at $1.20 it looks OK; if fuel peaks at $2.50 then you are at a different place again, particularly from a fleet perspective. So we need to keep our options open."



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