As Holden fans around Australia attempt to piece together the appearance of the new Holden Commodore in an online competition, Carsguide can exclusively reveal some of the key technology that is due to make it the most advanced car ever made in Australia.
The last homegrown Holden Commodore - due to be unveiled on Sunday before going on sale in June and phased out in 2016 - will be loaded with technology normally found on luxury cars, including a system that will enable the car to park itself, and an alert that will warn the driver if they are about to crash.
Although self parking technology has been around since 2005 when it was introduced on a Lexus limousine, and is now available on Volkswagens, Skodas and the new Ford Focus, the VF Commodore will become the first Australian-made car with the technology.
The system uses sensors in the front and rear bumper bars to detect the size of a car space, and then steers the car automatically into position. The driver only needs to select reverse and touch the brakes. As with the latest systems it works for parallel and 90-degree parking. It’s made possible by the Commodore’s switch to electric power steering, which is also a fuel-saving measure.
Other technology designed to trim about 10 per cent from the new Holden Commodore’s fuel bill includes a lightweight aluminium bonnet and boot, as well as some underbody components that trim the car’s mass by about 40kg.
Inside, Holden has completely overhauled the interior to give it a more upmarket appearance, but customers will most likely welcome the relocation of the power window switches from the centre console to the door panels. The Commodore’s current clumsy handbrake has been replaced by an electronic one that is operated at the press of a button.
The new Commodore will also get a heads up display that reflects car speed and key information in windscreen in driver's line of sight, similar to top end BMWs.
A larger touch screen is the gateway to an overhauled entertainment system that will include access to Internet music service Pandora for the first time on an Australian-made car. Meanwhile a sensor key will enable drivers to unlock and start the car while leaving the key in their pocket or handbag.
The Commodore’s crash alert system won’t automatically slam on the brakes, as it does in some European cars, but it will alert the driver if they’re about to hit the car ahead in low-speed traffic. Holden would not confirm any of the technology in the new Commodore ahead of a secret briefing to the media today inside the company’s Melbourne design headquarters. All information, including official photos of the new car, have been embargoed until Sunday morning.
The ‘new’ Commodore is in fact a redesign of the VE model released seven years ago. The front and rear appearance have changed but the core of the car - the body, doors, roof, engines and transmission - are the same as before. Even the side mirrors are carried over.
The upgrade was due two years ago but was delayed by the restructure of General Motors in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. Falling sales of large cars meant that an all-new model wasn’t feasible, which is why Holden has invested heavily in technology in the updated model.
The VF will be the last Australian-made Commodore after the boss of Holden told reporters in Detroit it would be phased out by the end of 2016 to make way for a new, as yet unnamed vehicle to be built alongside the Cruze small car until 2022.
By the end of 2016 the homegrown Commodore will have run for 38 years, almost twice as long as the iconic Holden Kingswood it replaced in 1978, which was on sale for 20 years.
For live updates on the new Holden Commodore reveal on Sunday morning, following this reporter on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling