THE big Aussie V8 ain’t dead yet, with Opel engineers revealing plans to shoehorn an eight-cylinder engine under the bonnet of the new, imported Commodore due in 2017.
The new Commodore is hotly tipped to be a rebadged version of the next-generation Opel Insignia, under development in Germany with Australian input.
Hatch, sedan and wagon versions of the current Insignia are built at Opel’s Russelsheim factory in Germany and come in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations.
But where upgraded versions of the petrol and diesel engines used in the current Insignia range in Europe will power volume models of the next-gen car, Opel performance manager Wilfried Diehl has revealed a planned performance hero could use a high-output V6 or even a V8.
“We’re starting work on the VXR version of the new Insignia now, and there are big discussions about the engine,” said Diehl.
“We have no plans for a V8 for the European market, but there could be a discussion with North America to get one for Australia. It’d have to be organised through America, where they would offer us a V8 engine on an appropriate platform and it would then go on sale there as well.
“I understand it [a V8 engine] is very important for the Australian market.”
He’s not wrong, with the 6.0-litre V8 engine in the current Holden Commodore line-up even today accounting for about three out of every 10 sales.
Despite the comments, Holden insiders told Wheels that while a V8-powered Insignia was not impossible, it was highly unlikely given Opel’s small penetration into the US market.
The more likely outcome is a 260kW high-performance V6 or 300kW four-cylinder turbo, currently under development for the European market.
“The new program is a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine or a 2.0-litre turbo,” said Diehl.
“We are in discussion about this but part of the program is the V6, which currently produces around 260kW/450Nm, but will make more.
“We just started with this engine because it is pretty new, and we have to think about what we can do with it performance-wise.”
There is also speculation that a turbo version of the V6 could eventually produce as much as 370kW – an output that dwarfs even the V8 performance of the current Commodore range.
But while the next-gen range-topping Insignia VXR (badged OPC in Germany) won’t appear until January 2018, Diehl confirmed Aussies would get their first look at the next Commodore in mid-2017.
“The standard Insignia will come in 2017, around August or September and the OPC will be about half a year later,” he said.
Diehl also dismissed speculation the next Insignia would increase in size, meaning the next Commodore would be smaller than the VF. The current Insignia is close to a Subaru Liberty in size.
“It will be built on a modified version of the current Insignia platform,” said Diehl. “And the dimensions will be the same as they are today, not larger. There’s talk it is going to be bigger, but it’s not.”
Holden will begin to reacquaint Aussie buyers with Opel products early next year when it imports the Astra VXR, current Insignia VXR and Cascade convertible.
As previously reported by Wheels, Holden has confirmed that Opel products will account for more than a third of its future product portfolio, with the German-engineered products key to helping Holden reach its ambitious target of becoming Australia’s top-selling brand by 2020.