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Tony O'Kane | Sep 22, 2009

HOLDEN SPECIAL VEHICLES boss Phil Harding has confirmed that the Clayton-based company will be wheeling out a range of high-performance LPG-fuelled models early next year.

The gas-powered engine will be based on the current 6.2 litre LS3 V8, but will utilise advanced liquid propane injection (LPI) technology that allows more precise metering of the fuel.

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Speaking at the media launch for the HSV E-Series 2 range recently, the HSV Managing Director said cold-weather evaluation trials had pushed back the debut date for the LPI powertrains, but that the technology was well on its way to a first quarter market launch in 2010.

"We have sent three mule vehicles for cold weather testing in recent weeks," Mr Harding said last night.

"The reports back from the Engineering team are encouraging and we have engines on dynos completing durability programmes.

"If all goes well, we should be able to launch LPI in early 2010. That’s a little later than I planned but it’s still an exciting program."

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Mr Harding also downplayed speculation of an upcoming diesel-powered HSV model, saying such a vehicle wouldn't sell enough units to warrant its development.

"At this stage, a diesel product program will not proceed," he said.

"We looked at it [diesel] seriously and the business case does not stack up."

Harding dropped another bombshell last night, revealing that in addition to dumping the Astra VXR from its line-up, HSV would not be importing the European-market Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Insignia VXR.

"We have looked at Insignia and Corsa VXR," said Mr Harding.

"We have been patient, watching the ownership issues for Europe, but the basic issue is we can’t launch these cars here and place them in a competitive price point.

"So, HSV will not proceed with importing either of these two cars into Australia."

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The Corsa VXR (above) features a 141kW 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor powering the front wheels, accelerates to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds and has a top speed of 230km/h. Smaller than the Astra, it could have been positioned as a sporty alternative to the Holden Barina.

The Insignia VXR (below) is a more high-performance offering, powered by a turbocharged 2.8 litre V6 delivering drive to all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and torque-apportioning AWD system.

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The Vauxhall Insignia VXR (also known as the Opel Insignia OPC) develops 240kW and can sprint to 100km/h from rest in six seconds flat.

The announcement that HSV will drop the Astra VXR and won't bring in the Corsa or Insignia means the company's 2010 range will consist purely of the new VE and WM-based E Series 2 line-up.

Future model plans beyond the incoming V8-powered E2 range aren't locked in, but Mr Harding says a performance-tuned Cruze variant isn't entirely out of the question.

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