Holden will cut the cost of a new Commodore by almost $10,000 when the new model arrives in June, in the process rolling back prices by more than a decade. The new VF Commodore line-up will start at $34,990 plus on-road costs with a new family and fleet model called the Evoke, which merges the old Omega and Berlina variants. The last time the RRP of a base model Commodore dipped below $35,000 was 14 years ago, in 1999.
Holden’s 226-strong dealer network was delivered the good news in a conference last Friday ahead of a cruise on Sydney Harbour hosted by Holden boss Mike Devereux.
The night on the water also celebrated Holden’s return to the sales podium in April after an unprecedented two months outside the top three sellers. In a new low-point for the brand it was beaten by importers Nissan and Hyundai in February and March.
In March and April the Commodore was pushed outside the top 10 selling cars for the first time in its 35-year history. The Commodore’s record 15-year run as Australia’s favourite car ended two years ago when it was overtaken by the Mazda3.
But Holden is fighting back against the odds, hoping that buyers who’ve moved away from large cars may give the Commodore one last chance before the homegrown model bows out in 2016, to make way for a four-cylinder front-drive sedan.
To give it the best chance of success Holden has loaded the VF Commodore with the works: even the base model will be anything but basic. The entire range will come standard with self parking technology, and a rear view camera, as well as the usual mod-cons.
The new pricing is in fact close to what customers have been paying for a new Commodore over the past few years. But rather than offering big discounts to those prepared to haggle, the new RRPs level the playing field and give all buyers a fairer go, regardless of their negotiating skills.
The new pricing structure is also a dramatic response to increased competition from imported cars, which now represent 90 per cent of all new vehicles sold. Twenty years ago imports represented about half the new-car market.
The biggest savings on the new Commodore range are on sports and luxury models, with price cuts of up to $9800. The Caprice V limousine (a longer version of the Commodore and the same type of car the Prime Minister travels in) has been slashed by a neat $10,000 to $59,990.
The luxury Calais sneaks under the $40,000 mark for the first time in more than a decade, at $39,990 (an $8300 saving) while the popular SV6 sports sedan comes in at $35,990, previously only a promotional price.
There is a catch in the fine print, however. Metallic paint still adds $550, among the dearest of the mainstream brands. And automatic transmission (the most popular choice) is $2200 extra on most models.
V8 fans will be pleased to know that the price of the SS sedan has gone down by up to $9800, depending on the model. The SS sedan starts at $41,990 (similar to Volkswagen Golf GTI and Subaru WRX money), while the SS-V with leather and other luxuries kicks off at $45,490. The last time the RRP of a V8 Commodore SS was close to $41,990 was 18 years ago, in 1995, when the VS SS started at $41,910.
The news isn’t quite so good for ute buyers, however, with only modest price cuts across the workhorse and show-pony range. The base model V6 auto ute starts at $32,990 plus on-road costs (down $2500), which is the same price as an SV6 ute with six-speed manual transmission. The favourite among cashed-up tradies and miners, the SS ute, starts at $38,990 -- a $3000 saving.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling
Holden VF Commodore sedan prices
Evoke V6: $34,990 ($5000 off)
SV6 manual: $35,990 ($6800 off)
SV6 auto: $38,190 ($5600 off)
Calais V6: $39,990 ($8300 off)
Calais V V6: $46,990 ($9800 off)
Calais V V8: $52,990 ($9000 off)
SS manual: $41,990 ($5800 off)
SS auto: $44,190 ($5600 off)
SS-V manual: $45,490 ($9800 off)
SS-V auto: $47,690 ($9600 off)
Redline manual: $51,490 ($5800 off)
Redline auto: $53,690 ($5600 off)
Caprice V: $59,990 ($10,000 off)
Source: Holden dealers