Holden’s 2018 performance flagship has been officially revealed for a post-home-grown Commodore world that will see no eight-cylinder engines, manual gearboxes or SS badges.
As previously confirmed, the new model will ditch the bent eight for a naturally-aspirated V6 matched only to a nine-speed automatic with power channelled to all four wheels.
In line with the sweeping changes, Holden will retire the SS badge from Commodore’s performance offering, opting instead for the VXR tag worn by several Opel and Vauxhall performance models - and by the now-discontinued Holden Insignia VXR.
"SS is a very specific nomenclature in this country, it's always had a V8 under the bonnet [so] we wanted to gracefully retire that name," Holden’s Sean Poppitt said.
"We wanted to have continuity and familiarity within the family. We've had the Astra and Insignia VXR as well. It was a natural fit."
Details of the 2018 Commodore VXR come just two days after images leaked of the Chinese-market Buick Regal GS.
As expected, the new Commodore VXR will be powered by a 3.6-litre V6 that will produce 235kW of power and 381Nm of torque.
The all-wheel drive system is known as 'Twinster' and features torque vectoring that allows performance to be split between both front and rear axles as well as each side of the car, depending on the conditions.
Befitting its place as the performance flagship the VXR will also feature Brembo brakes and adjustable drive modes thanks to a system it calls Continuous Damping Control.
Other VXR touches include 20-inch alloy wheels, unique front and rear bumpers, rear lip spoiler and leather sports seats.
Poppitt defended the decision to make the flagship model a V6, sitting above a predominantly four-cylinder range, despite the Commodore's image traditionally based around its V8-powered muscle car.
"People have definitely thought that," Poppitt admitted. "Historically, prior to the launch of [the] LS3 [V8 in the SS and SS-V], over the previous 10 years 76 percent of models were V6 powered,” Mr Poppitt said.
“The most popular models were cars like the SV6. The challenge for us will be showing people just how good the new four-cylinder engine is. There's more to Commodore than what's been traditionally known."
Holden's lead dynamic engineer Rob Trubiani, who developed the acclaimed local Commodore range, acknowledged the imported model is a very different proposition. But he has been part of the local development team that has driven more than 100,000km in Australia to tailor the new Commodore to local roads and tastes, believing it can win over potential customers.
"The next-gen Commodore VXR offers a different execution of performance to the outgoing SS but make no mistake, this is a more than worthy successor," Trubiani said. "We've been involved in the development of this car from the beginning and I personally have spent significant time behind the wheel overseas and at Holden's Lang Lang proving ground."
Poppitt also teased V8 Holden fans with another reference to Holden's mooted "two-door sports car", hinting it will fill the void left by the Commodore SS if the VXR doesn't.
The 'Holden sports car' was first cryptically announced by GM International boss Stefan Jacoby at the 2015 Detroit motor show but since then the brand has refused to reveal any further details. Speculation suggests it will be either the Chevrolet Camaro or Corvette; or potentially both will come down under in future generations.
"Let's not forget that at some time in the not-too-distant future there will be a sports car," Poppitt said. "The sports car is so important to us."
But he didn't give any further details on the project.
The VXR will launch with the Commodore sedan and wagon in the first quarter of 2018, with the Subaru Outback-rivaling Tourer due later in the year.
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