Holden will enter the hot hatch battlezone in earnest in 2015, with the Astra VXR arriving in the first half of the year.
The stroppy little Astra VXR hatch will put Holden in better shape to compete against the myriad go-fast hatchback offerings on the market, including the Focus ST and Fiesta ST from its traditional rival Ford. We will also see a go-fast Insignia VXR and a brand new two-door convertible called Cascada.
Holden MD Gerry Dorizas was joined by top GM and president of international operations Stefan Jacoby to announce the stylish hatchback and a host of new product for our marketplace last week.
"Holden is one of the strongest brands in Australasia and the introduction of the Astra, Cascada and Insignia to the portfolio in 2015 will be a great addition," Jacoby said.
"We are determined to offer New Zealand and Australian customers the best possible products that we can source from our global operations, as we build a strong future for Holden.
GMIO is dedicated to building strong brands that connect with our customers. Holden and GMIO ... are focused on the long-term fundamentals, such as ensuring Holden retains its proud Australasian identity and provides customers with the best possible cars.
"It's critical we focus on consumer and market-driven product strategies that enable global scale while engaging customers at a local-market level. The Astra, Cascada and Insignia are proof positive of our strategy."
Alongside the Astra VXR, which boasts a two-litre turbocharged engine teamed with a six-speed manual, there is a GTC version of Astra with both manual and auto six-speeds, but with a 1.6L turbo engine.
The Insignia VXR is a four-door sedan powered by a force-fed 2.8-litre V6. It will be offered only with a six-speed automatic transmission but will be all-wheel drive, marking a bold new territory for Holden to enter as it counts down to the closure of its two plants and the discontinuation of its Commodore.
Holden New Zealand is particularly excited by the Cascada - a front-wheel drive convertible using the same 1.6-litre turbo as the Astra GTC.