Beyond VF: Holden Keeps Rear-drive Commodore Hopes Alive Photo:
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Barry Park | Feb, 11 2013 | 6 Comments

Design chief says a front-dragging layout for the next Commodore is no sure thing.

A rear-drive layout is still an option for the next all-new Commodore, one of the car’s chief architects has confirmed.

Holden is already narrowing down the design of the next Commodore, which will drop its Australian-designed heritage for a GM global flavour.

UPDATE - MAY 2013: Pricing and photos for the new VF Commodore have been released. Click here.

The carmaker’s chief designer, Richard Felazzo, told Carsales.com.au that work on the next Commodore had started even as the first plans for the VF Commodore unveiled this week were drafted, and that several three-dimensional models of the new car had already been developed.

However, while speculation is rife that a front-drive platform will underpin the next Commodore - due in about 2016 when the radically redesigned VF Commodore is expected to retire - Felazzo has suggested that a front-engine, rear drive layout is still on the table.

“You know, there’s all this talk about the next Commodore being a front-wheel-drive car,” he said at the launch of the VF Commodore.

“Don’t forget that Cadillac has a rear-wheel-drive platform we can use if we want.”

An all-new Alpha rear-drive platform made its debut in the Cadillac ATS early last year. Unlike the locally developed Zeta large car layout however, the Alpha platform was designed for midsizers - a step down from today's Commodore.

The ATS is currently the only Alpha-based vehicle in the GM stable, with a 2776mm wheelbase. Commodore’s Zeta-based wheelbase, meanwhile, is 2915mm - only five percent longer than the Alpha-based car.

Reports suggest the next-generation Cadillac CTS will ride on a stretched version of the Alpha platform, again improving the Commodore's odds of getting a ride on the same architecture.


Agility Versus Efficiency

Holden’s parent, General Motors, is still undecided about the place of rear-wheel-drive cars in its global range. There is growing pressure on the company to make wider use of the lighter, more fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive layout across more platforms.

The RWD layout is favoured for some premium models because, even though it is heavier and less fuel-efficient, it gives the vehicle greater handling and agility than a car dragged from the front.

Mr Ferlazzo said Holden’s development team was still in the early stage of developing the VF Commodore’s successor, and that it still had room to change things before more specific details on the new car are released in about three years’ time.

He added that the design of the new Commodore could change until the point that the hugely expensive panel-stamping machinery is settled on.

“If we make changes now, they’re quite cheap to do,” he says. “We can’t make changes when we’re talking about [panel-stamping machinery], that costs millions of dollars.”

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