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The Lion eyes Camry!

In the Den: Tosca (front), S3X (left) and T2X. Digital image: Chris Harris

Camry-sized, budget-priced ‘Vectra’ emerges as Holden’s next Daewoo-sourced car

14 Dec 2005

HOLDEN has a top-secret plan to roll out yet another lion-badged, GM Daewoo-sourced model – this time a medium sedan to take on Toyota’s Camry.

GoAuto has learned Holden is almost certain to add what will be the fourth South Korean-built model to its range since the company took a controlling interest in Daewoo in 2002 – in the shape of a mid-sized "executive" sedan to directly rival next year’s all-new version of market leader Toyota’s super-successful Camry.

After somewhat bizarrely describing 2005 as the "Year of the Small Car", Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney is now forecasting 2006 will be the "Year of the Family Car" in reference to the redesigned VE Commodore due on sale by September and the Daewoo S3X concept-based 4WD wagon that will rival Ford’s top-selling Territory and Toyota’s Kluger in the first half of next year.

Together with a smaller 4WD based on the Daewoo T2X concept car due late next year, the medium-sized Tosca sedan – the first photos of which were revealed last week – will form a key plank in Holden’s quest to wrest the number-one sales mantle from Toyota.

This "Daewoo-led recovery" for Holden began earlier this year with the introduction of the "new" TK Barina (a rebadged Daewoo Kalos) and JF Viva (a rebadged Daewoo Lacetti).

Holden has admitted the facelifted version of its premium-priced, mid-sized Vectra, which is designed by GM’s European affiliate Opel and built in Belgium, will not be made available here following slow annual sales of around 3500 since its debut in redesigned ZC form here in March 2003.

GoAuto has learned Holden’s supply of about 600 Vectras will be exhausted by March – and would have ended much earlier if not for the Australian GM subsidiary’s commitment to receive an agreed number of V6 variants – leaving the way open for Tosca to effectively replace Vectra as Holden’s medium segment representative.

A replacement for the company’s Magnus sedan, Tosca is essentially a reskinned version of the South Korean car-maker’s Leganza/Magnus sedan, with a new interior.

Mr Mooney indicated to GoAuto as early as June that the replacement for the then-current Magnus would drive more sales in the medium-car market than Vectra.

Badged as Chevrolet Epica outside South Korea, where it goes on sale early next year, the V250-codenamed front-drive sedan is likely to remain available with either a Holden-built Family II 2.0-litre four-cylinder or a 2.5-litre straight-six Daewoo engine.

While Holden’s director of sales and marketing, Ross McKenzie, said talk of an Alloytec V6-powered Tosca was premature, he was more forthcoming about its potential position within Holden’s sales strategy.

"It was actually my idea," he told GoAuto. "Tosca is in the Camry genre. It’s a biggish car but it’s not – (it’s) about VL Commodore-size, front-drive and available with a six-cylinder.

"Camry has a market all to itself, totally different to Accord and Mazda6. It consistently gets 25,000 (annual) sales, mainly to fleets, rentals and government.

"It’s quite an okay car, but somewhat of a commodity-purchasing item.

"This car looks as good if not better, so why not try? "One thing the Koreans can offer is value, so if we can do it for a similar price to Camry four..." Mr McKenzie, who retires from Holden at the end of next week after 32 years of service, stopped short of confirming Tosca as a definite Holden starter, but revealed that Tosca was currently under evaluation and, if approved for Australian sales, could be made available as early as next year.

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