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Holden sporty but nice

Looking like it came straight from a European design catalogue, GM Holden's new VE Commodore Sportwagon made its world debut at the Australian International Motor Show.

Station wagons, avants, shooting brakes; call them what you will; have been finding favour behind European badges where designers have emphasised styling over raw luggage space.

More traditionally, the Aussie wagon had been something of a utilitarian load carrier, serving as a working-day trade vehicle and weekend family conveyance. The growth in popularity of both utes and SUVs ate into the wagon's popularity and there were even suggestions that Holden would not bother with a VE derivative.

It has, and the result is every bit as stylish as the VE sedans. “This is a car for families with a get-up-and-go attitude,” says GM Holden chairman and managing director Chris Gubbey.

“The generous interior space, combined with sleeker, sportier styling, makes this a wagon that people will want to own as a year-round family car, or for family and business use.”

While Holden is calling the Sydney show car a production-based concept, there is likely to be little change before the car goes into production in the first half of next year. The 20-inch alloys will go as will some of the external bling, but overall what you see will be what you get.

The vehicle draws on VE sedan at the front, with a sleek and sporty silhouette at the back and is built on the same VE wheelbase. It is the third VE derivative after sedan and the newly released ute.

To create a wider boot opening the designers have the tailgate hinge well forward into the roof line. The Sportwagon seats five adults and with a 60:40 split rear seat can be configured to carry up to four passengers and long load.

The motor show display model includes a roof-mounted DVD player, Bluetooth capability, multi-function driver information display system and zone-based front and rear park assist systems; all currently standard on the VE Calais V-Series sedan.

There are no clues as to pricing or powertrain specifics, although it is likely that a similar engine range to the VE sedan; 3.6-litre V6 to 6.0-litre V8; and model spread from the basic through to the Calais V-Series.

Leading safety technology features such as ESP will be standard across the range.

“Sportwagon breaks the mould for Holden wagons,” says . Holden's executive director sales, marketing and after sales, Alan Batey.

“It has great style, performance and practicality for families, businesses or both. Customers will get a car that's equally at home as a working tool or a desirable family car; with all the storage advantages that come with a wagon.”

The concept model on display at the show also incorporates a V8 engine featuring Active Fuel Management (AFM) and E85 flex fuel capability. The AFM allows cylinders to turn off under light load conditions to improve fuel economy.

Also on show will be Holden Special Vehicles' Maloo performance ute. The Maloo R8 shares plenty of DNA with the ClubSport R8 sedan, including the ground-hugging front spoiler, grille, headlights and fog lights and is a far more aggressive car than the ute it replaces.

The Maloo sits on 19-inch alloy wheels; a 20-inch option will be available; while a remote-release hard tonneau, reverse parking sensors and a full-sized spare are all standard.

And, for the first time an Aussie ute will break the 300kW power barrier with the Maloo's 6.0-litre Gen IV V8 tuned to release 307kW. Drive to the rear wheels will be through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.


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