It’s been an open secret for months, if not years, that the Chevrolet Camaro is coming to Australia as a factory-backed product. Today, GMH finally made it official, confirming not only that the Camaro is coming down under this year, but that HSV will be responsible for local conversion and compliance of the Chevy muscle car and other GM vehicles not currently offered in RHD, as part of a post-Commodore future for the specialty brand.
Holden-HSV "stronger" bond
The focus will be on Camaros and Silverado pickups initially, but HSV will eventually be responsible for local conversions on all GM products not available here in factory RHD form.
HSV Managing Director Tim Jackson said it was fantastic to see the new partnership cemented between the two brands.
“This marks a new era for HSV and Holden and I hope our customers are as excited as we are. HSV is moving beyond simply ‘hotting up’ existing models, and customers will see two product streams from HSV over the next few years. This is ‘Game-On’ in a very big way.”
To this, Holden’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard, added that the new agreement was a pivotal step forward for both companies.
“For a number of years, we’ve been talking about bringing customers the best vehicles from around the GM world - we’re proud to announce the next step in that strategy.
“Our partnership with HSV, utilising their world-class engineering and design capabilities, means we’re able to work together to bring the iconic Chevrolet Camaro muscle car and the best-selling Chevrolet Silverado pick-up to customers in Australia and New Zealand.”
As most predicted – and most customers have demanded – the Silverado and Camaro will retain their Chevy identity when they come here, marking the first time that Chevrolet-badged vehicles have been officially sold by GMH since the 1970s. The Silverado will reach Australian shores first, arriving in Q2, with the Camaro due for local release in July.
No Performance Upgrades. Yet.
According to Bernhard, the vehicles in this initial agreement will only be converted by HSV; no enhancements will be made to areas like the drivetrain, braking or suspension.
Bernhard also confirmed that existing HSV dealers will now carry the Chevrolet name and famous ‘bowtie’ logo in their signage and branding. A new version of the HSV logo will also appear this year, which may be the thin end of a wedge that sees the ‘Holden’ name and badge eventually disappear from Australia entirely.
Jackson denies this, saying that, while Chevrolet will be a large part of HSV’s future, Holden will remain important to the business, as evidenced by the Colorado-based ‘SportsCat’ announced in December. Upgrades to the brakes, suspension, cosmetics and interior of this sports ute are being undertaken by HSV.
“It is important that we continue to play a key role in enhancing Holden’s image in the market place, and potential customers can expect to see us going to work on enhanced products which are a natural extension of the Holden range,” said Jackson, although he stopped short of confirming whether HSV would also offer performance upgrades on the vehicles they’re converting to RHD.
“Some of our traditional customers will expect more power, and if the opportunities present themselves, we will look at powertrain enhancements where it makes sense.”
Tellingly, the announcement of the new Holden-HSV partnership on 8 December made no mention of the Commodore whatsoever, so HSV performance enhancements of the new, fully-imported Commodore range that arrives here in February appears unlikely, but Holden have hinted that the SS badge may return in the future.
Camaro Brings Competition
As a competitor to the Ford Mustang that’s been a major success in Australia, the Camaro will initially be offered in 2SS form and only as a coupe; the milder 2LT version and Camaro convertible haven’t been mentioned, but may be added to HSV’s range at a later date.
The 2SS spec means a Camaro fitted with the 6.2-litre LT1 V8 that was unveiled in 2012 and made its GM debut in the 2014-model Corvette.
A slightly more modern V8 compared to the naturally-aspirated LS3 and supercharged LSA engines = fitted to HSV’s last Gen-F2 Commodore range, this ‘Generation V’ version of the long-lived Chevy small block V8 features direct injection and variable valve timing. In MY18 Camaro application, the LT1 is matched to an 8-speed, paddle-shift automatic transmission. In US application, this package produces 340kW of power and 615Nm of torque.
Surprisingly, a manual transmission Camaro will not be offered here, at least initially.
Standard Camaro 2SS features include a ‘performance’ suspension package and 4-piston Brembo performance brakes with fixed calipers. Twenty-inch, split-spoke alloys (8.5-inch wide front & 9.5-inch wide rear) will be the standard wheels, fitted with 245/40ZR20 (front) and 275/35ZR20 (rear) Goodyear Eagle tyres.
HID headlamps and LED DRLs, a rear spoiler and bright metal tips for the dual-outlet exhaust are other features, while inside, the 2SS spec means leather-trimmed sports front seats with power-adjustment, heating and ventilation, and a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel.
Comfort and tech features include dual zone automatic climate control air conditioning, a 9-speaker Bose premium audio, 24-colour interior spectrum lighting, head-up display, Drive Mode Selector and Enhanced Driver Information Centre.
Recommended Retail Pricing for the Camaro is yet to be confirmed, but is expected to start around the $85-$90,000 mark.