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Holden Epica Diesel On The Way

3603 Views 43 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  mikmak
Epica Diesel Imminent

Mike Sinclair
4 June 2008

Holden will launch a turbodiesel Epica... And soon

Holden will add a turbodiesel variant to its Epica range -- and it will do so soon. While the manufacturer's corporate communications staff will admit little other than the existence of the new model, advertising creative briefs circulated for the car are more enlightening.

To feature a version of the same 2.0-litre common-rail direct-injected four-cylinder that powers the Captiva Turbodiesel, the Epica VCDi is expected to officially debut in July.

Already on sale in key markets in Europe wearing the Chevrolet badge, the VCDi boasts power and torque outputs of 110kW and 320Nm respectively. This matches the Captiva’s powerplant and is well up -- in real world terms -- on the 2.5-litre petrol six-cylinder Epica's rather anemic 115kW/237Nm output.

Unlike its Euro equivalent, it's understood, Holden's Epica will be available with a five-speed automatic gearbox.

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If a diesel were released a while ago, Holden might have had an advantage. But this segment has already seen/sees currently diesel versions of the Mazda6, Mondeo, Jetta and Sonata.

It may perk up sales a little bit, though, but I wouldn't expect a huge shift. Captiva sales picked up with the diesel but that's a crossover.
The reason guys like me rail against the Epica isn't because it's a GM-DAT development - I like the Captiva, and appreciate the Viva's role as a budget small car - but the fact that GM in its own stable has better mid-sizers (G6, Malibu, Aura, Insignia), and Ford can afford to bring over its class-leading Mondeo, and Mazda's excellent 6 is second-best-selling in the class. And, on a lesser note, it shows that Holden perhaps isn't that serious about the mid-size market for whatever reason (worrying about Commodore sales being encroached on, perhaps).

It's a very, very average car. And in this year, and in this market, that's not good.
I don't think the Mondeo is class-leading now that the new Mazda 6 is here. Ford sold 500 Mondeos in May to a market looking for midsizers. Mazda sold 1000 6's, Toyota sold $hitloads of Camrys. Tells you pretty much everything. And the Mondeo is selling because of hefty discounts at present. Like the Aurion, when they go, so possibly will the sales.
I think the Mondeo and Mazda6 are probably equal at the top of the class. Nothing but rave reviews for either. The comparison test in this month's Wheels placed the 6 1st and the Mondeo 3rd, but that's because they tested the base-model Mondeo and their only criticisms were about the trim level. Most people buy the Zetec anyway, so the criticisms were moot. They said the Mondeo was incredibly roomy, excellent quality and had great dynamics. That it's not winning as many sales as the 6 and Camry says more about the lack of name recognition and advertising than anything else. Considering how little advertising I've seen for the Mondeo, 500 is a very respectable number. The Camry and 6 have been the class barnstormers in sales for years now.

The mid-size market is massive. You've got Mondeo, Epica, Camry, 6, Octavia, Liberty, Sebring, Avenger, Accord, Accord Euro, Sonata, Magentis, Jetta.... It's a big class. However, the scope of the class makes the Mondeo (virtually a new nameplate) and its 500 sales look good, and the Epica and its abysmal 43 sales look very, very bad.

I've driven a G6, a 3.5V6 GT - it's crap. Australians would find it on par with a 1980's Commodore inside (hard pebbled plastics) and a 1980's Camry for dynamics. Smaller than it looks - not even as big as Epica. It's hard to imagine a car with wallowy suspension that also crashes over every minor pimple in the road. Well the G6 is it. My missus TS 1.8 Astra auto would clobber it for go, and probably has a more usable interior not to mention aeons ahead in comfort and ergonomics. The seating position is just all wrong and the steering is not even reach adjustable. I think the Epica would kill it in a comparo. It wasn't even very economical, only on a par with a 3800 VY auto wagon.
All cars that come here have a degree of "Australianisation". They do outback testing, they pick a firmer suspension setting, they make other detail changes. I bet those problems you listed, other than fuel efficiency (which is different for the 2.4, 3.6 and 3.9) and interior quality, could be rectified in the standard Australianisation process. If Holden were intent on bringing over the G6, I'm sure they'd cherry-pick what they'd want; I'd see a range of 2.4 and 3.5, with perhaps the GTP suspension settings, and the option of a manual transmission.

There has been one prevailing praise in every G6 review I've read, and that is its ride. It's been praised as being very smooth and compliant, even over rough surfaces. There'd been the odd criticism or two about numb electric steering (which is only in the 2.4 and 3.5, I believe) but the ride has never been criticised. Overall, the G6 is seen as being quite good dynamically, with a sporty feel and a compliant suspension.

The G6 has a long wheelbase, and I've heard in plenty of reviews that it is commodious enough. Seating position is something subjective.

A Commodore VY has 152kw; the G6 3.5 has 150kw. Both are automatics. I would think lineball fuel efficiency would be an expectation.

The G6 isn't as good as its platform-mates, but I would expect it (on a fairly new platform that hosts two NACOTYs and a Saab) to perform a lot better than an Epica.

The Aura is an Americanised Vectra - failed here already. Too expensive for what it is.
The Malibu is probably nice, but a Commodore sized car, isn't exported anywhere, isn't RHD so it's moot. It would, I think, be too dear landed in Oz. We'd have to wait for next gen for GM to make it RHD - that's if they remember.
So for the next period, 6-18 months Epica is it.
The Aura probably has more in common with Malibu/G6 than with Vectra, despite its styling. I would think it'd be cheaper to import an Aura from the US than it would be to import an Insignia from Europe. Now that I think about it, the Aura could do quite well here. It would fit in with the rest of the range, and even though it's being replaced soon it is still new and fresh enough. It's also not too big, and comes with a choice of engines.

I think the Aura would make more sense than the Malibu because the Aura's design language fits in better with Holden. The current Malibu is a damn good car, but so is the Aura (just less flashy). Also, I get the feeling the Malibu would seem a lot bigger in person than an Aura, which could potentially cause trouble for the Commodore.

If they'd used the same strategy for the Epica as they did with the Astra & Viva, by making it the budget mid-sizer then adding a more expensive mid-sizer, the situation would be a little bit better.
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Ford pricing problems are quite apparent from the windup rear windows and plastic hubcaps in the base Mondeo. To get one with alloys and four power windows and retail you're spending a lot more than a decently equpped 6 or Camry. When they're on special, they sell. That was the problem with the Vectra. The V6 was a great drive - except it cost more than a Calais V8 until they dropped the price. The four was just an ordinary car, but more expensive than the other ordinary cars. The Mondeo Zetec 2.3 is excatly the same as the base 2.3 and just as lethargic if you read the tests. It really needs a V6 and it may get one sooner or later.
On the Mondeo, "The Mondeo's performance is competitively brisk (as our test figures show) and its acceleration is certainly quicker than it feels". Not as zoomy as the 6, but not exactly lethargic. This month's Wheels. They tested a 6 Classic, not the base-model Limited, but they used a Mondeo LX. Oh, and $34,990 for an auto Zetec sedan or hatch which is very well-equipped, versus $35,940 for an auto Classic which I believe is comparatively equipped. A hatchback adds $1000 or so more to the asking price.

Looking at the equipment list, the Mondeo Zetec is very price competitive. My sister was in the market for a mid-sizer... I told her about everything in the market (hell, she even looked at a Sebring) but I convinced her that the Mondeo was the best buy. This was before the 6 came out, mind you, but I think either of them are world-class and top of the heap.

The Epica isn't even close.

Oh and dear lord, man, you make your (rental) G6 sound like the most atrocious car available. While I did enjoy your review of sorts (particularly the line about the ham radio steering), I find it hard to believe that American reviewers (many of whom are extremely critical of GM/Ford/Chrysler) would not notice any of that. Yes, they have slightly different tastes but they agree the 6 is the best-handling car in the segment, and the Accord is a good drive - something that is reflected in Australian publications.

The base Sebring is hardly poverty-pack. Chrysler made sure to spec it up to the hilt, perhaps in some effort to hit a premium mid-size niche. The base model is absolutely loaded, including leather, climate control, CD, stability control... I think the Limited just adds a different sound system and some woodgrain accents.

The base Aura is a 4cyl. It starts at $US21000. The Camry and Mazda6 start at $US19000, Accord at 20k, Legacy at 20.5k. Not a massive difference.

The Aura XR V6 is $26k, whereas a similarly equipped Camry is $28k and Accord is $26k.
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You seem to be side stepping, not just the whole point of the thread, but a prime motivator of the expected surge in mid-size sales. The Mondeo has worst in class fuel efficiency. Even the TDCi is over 1l/100km behind the Mazda diesel. There is no point in downsizing to a Mondeo to save on fuel when every other mid sizer is more efficient. Even the AWD Subaru Liberty has its number (according to ADR figures).

It's pretty clear cut.
Actually, mikmak, that's the first time in this thread someone has brought up the Mondeo's fuel efficiency.

Worst in class would actually be the Camry, by the way. Which is the best-selling car in the class.

However, both the Mondeo and the Camry still have greater fuel efficiency than Commodore and Falcon.
Camry has twenty-plus years of brand equity. You can't try and out-Camry the Camry with a new nameplate. You have to offer something different and exciting, and I think that's why the Mazda6 has performed so spectacularly in Australia. It was a burst of fresh air in a fairly stagnant mid-size market.

If you argue that the Epica is aiming right at the heart of Camry, then I must say that is a foolish idea. It has not got proven quality or reliability and beyond that, what does it have? A smooth ride? If the mid-size buyer's purchase comes down to a smooth ride, they will add that to the quality and reliability factors and buy a Camry.

One only has to look at the US market and the Big 3's attempts to hit the Camry by imitating it. The more successful mid-size/large cars have been different or exciting in some way: the new Malibu, the old Concorde/Intrepid, 300. The Camry clones (Impala, Lumina, old Malibu) have relied upon domestic loyalists and fleet sales.

So, with a new nameplate like Epica, what is the incentive to buy? A smooth ride, a low price. But what else? What will make the consumer buy it over a Camry besides these and any Holden-allegiance?
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