GM and Holden considering Toyota 86 rival

words - Bruce Newton
General Motors boss says affordable rear-wheel drive coupe is “on the list” – and it could become a Holden
Holden could add a Toyota 86 fighter to its armoury if General Motors North America boss Mark Reuss succeeds in his ambition to bring a budget-buy rear-wheel drive Chevrolet coupe to market.

While not confirmed for production, the idea was previewed by the 2012’s Code 130R concept car (pictured) and is on the wishlist of the former Holden boss.

The 86 – which is sold as the Scion FR-S in the US - and its almost identical twin, the Subaru BRZ, swept all before them in 2012, with demand exceeding supply and car of the year awards piling up in response to their affordable rear-drive oversteer antics.

“I love it,” said Reuss, an enthusiastic driver. “It’s on the list. It would be a great entry for us.

“I don’t know if they (Toyota) are making any money but it is a very attractive car.”

Reuss said a production 130R would use the engineering basics of the freshly-developed Alpha rear-wheel drive platform employed by luxury brand Cadillac but would be cheaper to build.

“We would do something with the knowledge of Alpha and the background, but we wouldn’t take Alpha and try and shrink it.”

If the 130R does make it into production then there’s no doubt Holden Managing Director Mike Devereux would be bearing Reuss’ door down to make sure it made it to Australia.

It has already been speculated the 130R could return the Torana name to Holden showrooms for the first time since 1980.

Meanwhile, Reuss also officially put a sales number to another rear-wheel drive program with strong Aussie links, the Chevy SS that is based on the forthcoming VF Commodore and built in Adelaide.

“Between 3000 and 5000 (annual) sales would be great,” he said. 

While that is a very modest number considering there are 3500 Chevrolet dealers nationwide, the V8-only SS will be premium priced and equipped, and will most likely appeal to customers in the south and west of the country where rear-drive cars aren’t handicapped by snowy winter conditions.

The south is also the heartland of the legendary NASCAR stock car series, in which the SS will replace the Impala as Chevrolet’s entry this year.

“In the south and on the west coast that car will be hot,” predicted Mr Reuss. “We will sell plenty out here in the mid-west too.

“I think those markets are tuned into what it is and where it races.”

Mr Reuss described the SS as an experiment to see whether mainstream rear-drive models would work for Chevrolet in the USA, after years of reliance on large front-drive cars such as the Impala.

“We haven’t done this in a long time,” he said. “We are going to experiment with SS and see what happens.”

If the SS does strike a chord and establishes itself, that could well play a role in guaranteeing the VF Commodore, which goes on sale here in May, continues to be built as an export model beyond its Australian lifecycle, which is due to expire by 2017.

While the SS will be Chevrolet’s first rear-drive sedan in 17 years, a production 130R would be a worthy successor to the 2.0-litre Pontiac Solstice coupe and convertible, which shared GM’s compact rear-drive Kappa platform with the Saturn Sky and Opel GT, and was sold in the US between 2006 and 2009.

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Published : Wednesday, 16 January 2013
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