7 Nov 2012

How Vauxhall could bring the Omega back to UK roads

Holden is the Australian version of Vauxhall.  Amongst their model line up is the venerable Holden Commodore - which we think should be sold in the UK as the Omega.

Vauxhall's largest car is the Insignia and this morning they announced the VXR SuperSport, a four wheel drive, 325bhp, £30,000 flagship model, in order to relaunch the brand.  But we think there is room for another model in the Vauxhall range, just above the Insignia.

Rewind to the late nineties.  Vauxhall's saloon offering back then was the Vectra - and above that in terms of size and prestige was the Omega.  A successor to the Carlton, the Omega was a rear wheel drive saloon and estate which offered a cheaper alternative to the BMW 5 series and Mercedes E Class.  It sold well until 2004 when the last model rolled off the production line in Rüsselsheim, Germany.

Since then GM/Vauxhall have not offered a rear wheel drive saloon that sits above the Insignia - except for the VXR which is a niche vehicle that sells in small quantities from only 6 dealers, and costs £45,000.  Poor residuals affected the Omega's sales in latter years and GM are obviously mindful of the cost of developing a new car so haven't bothered to replace it.  Vauxhall seem to be leaving the luxury saloon sector to the Germans.

But, sitting in GM's existing model line-up is a right hand drive car that could be the perfect successor to the Omega - the Holden Commodore.

The Commodore is a large saloon that sits on the same platform as the Chevrolet Camaro.  It looks good and has three engines - a 3.0 V6 with 258bhp, 3.6 V6 with 285bhp and 6 litre V8 with 353bhp, and also comes with LPG options.

The VXR is based on the same platform but is put together by HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) and is very much an expensive, flagship car.

The Commodore, meanwhile, costs (in Australia) from £24,000 for the base 3.0, V6 Equipe, up to £40,000 for the V8, 6 litre powered SS-V Sportswagon.  That's right, the Commodore comes as an estate too.

Specifications are very much suited to UK roads.  It comes with MacPherson strut and multi-link suspension, ABS, EBA, TCS, EBD, iQ multimedia, 6 speed auto with sports mode and a large range of colours, trims and options.

Holden have been working to reduce CO2 emissions and improve mpg but they still lag behind their European counterparts somewhat.  The 3.0 V6 does 26mpg and produces 210 g/km of CO2.  The 3.6 does 24mpg and produces 228g/km of CO2.

Bar a few cosmetic changes the Holden Commodore could be sold in Europe.  And it would sell well.  It is available as a saloon or estate, is right hand drive, is rear wheel drive, has a decent range of engines and is cheap.  The BMW 530i SE costs £35,000 - a full £10,000 dearer than the equivalent Commodore in Australia.

And best of all.  Alongside the Berlina, SV6, SS and Calais versions of the Commodore lurks a version called the Omega.

You heard it here first.  The new super saloon and estate Vauxhall Omega could be on sale in the UK in 2013 - if Vauxhall get their act together.