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Holden Epica Diesel On The Way

3604 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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I highly doubt that lack of supply is behind them selling only 43 Epicas in Australia last month, that's a "Why bother?" kind of figure.

Seems that Korea isn't exactly an efficient place to source from if Holden NZ could only secure 450 Epicas last year, while Ford can source the 3 or 4 times the amount of Mondeos from Belgium before reaching supply difficulties. Let me guess, the reason Barina sales were half that of Fiesta sales in NZ last year (742 Fiestas, 381 Barinas) and only a smidgen more than the hellishly expensive (And internationally in demand) Peugeot 207 (302 sales) were also "Suppy difficulties" and don't even get me started on the Viva losing 1000 sales from it's 1500-odd in 2006.

Face it, the Epica has been a dud seller, people who want a Camry will buy a Camry.
One area I suppose the new Epica diesel could do well is the Taxi market.

Wellington Combined Taxis, for example (A 500-strong fleet) have recently bought out a policy that any replacement vehicles in their fleet must be either Hybrid, Diesel or LPG powered, this means it's goodbye Aurion and Maxima (Former darlings of this particular company) and hello LPG Falcadores, Diesel Sonatas/Octavias/Mondeos and of course the Prius. You can already see a lot of Diesel Sonatas on the fleet.

I wouldn't be surprised if most cab companies in Australia/NZ follow this route in the next 5 years. Image killer yes, but then the Epica never really had much of one to begin with.
There's not really anything 'wrong' with the Epica in the first place: it's a decent drive, comfortable and compares very nicely with others in the market for equipment and more than competitive on price.

Problem is that it doesn't matter if there isn't anything wrong with a car in this segment, as there are plenty of cars (Mondeo, Mazda6, Legacy, Accord Euro) that have a lot 'right' with them for a small premium. The Camry being the exception, but it's trading on its name, local manufacture and the fact it gained a foothold back when mid-sizers were mostly crap.
From a European perspective, the Epica is a very competent car. It sells a'OK here for the little (read: nonexistent) marketing it gets, and prices only marginally lower or even equal to Mondeo's and the like in the continent.

I think GM has a lukewarm attitude towards the car - it is a really good vehicle, with unique features such as the ultra-smooth inline six (which makes perfectly fine HP for the DISPLACEMENT, number of cylinders doesn't automatically bump up ratings!), BUT it is "not made here" and GM is likely to be killing the line as soon as it decide the current model "expires" and replace it with an Epsilon. So, they might not be keen to market it adequately and to ramp up supply, rather deciding to "let it sell".

Considering what Honda eek out of a Normally Aspirated 2.4 donk (150Kw in the Accord Euro and 169 Kw from the Euro R's 2.0), I find 115 Kw to be fairly weak. Hell my Accord is a 1995 model and makes 107 Kw from a 2.2 SOHC motor, so much for progress eh? Like I say, it's not much cheaper than the Mondeo and Mazda6 ($35k no haggle in NZ for 2.0 manual versions of both v $34k for the 2.5 Epica CDX), doesn't offer much more equipment other than alloys (But loses ESP and a kneebag) and is 10 years behind them dynamically (That is ride and handling), yes I liken the Epica to the 1997-2001 626 and the HB Mondeo.

Basically the Epica is aimed at the kind of people who were going to buy a Toyota in the first place.
You MUST be joking. I've driven all three (with plenty of wheel time behind a Mondeo) and the handling and ride of an Epica is night and day to the late 90s early 00s 626 and Mondeo.

As for it trying to attract the people who where going to buy a Toyota in the first place, I'm not really sure why you mention it as a negative:confused: Are n't conquest sales the whole point, considering that Vectras market share was pretty ordinary at it's end days?

What would many Camry buyers be attracted to? Handling and performance? Refinement? Economy? You may get a win in the performance stakes, but in refinement and economy (surely 2 important criteria for a mid sizer) the Camry is out in the cold.

The price of the Epica reflects its position. The fact that Camry out sells it doesn't make it better. After all, BFII had the wood over VZ (apparently) but sold like and the Corolla and Hilux are top of the charts regardless of being well below class benchmarks. It attracts a different type of buyer to Holden yards and IMO that is a good thing.

In someways the HB Mondeo comparison is a back-handed compliment, as it was a decent handling/riding car in its day.

I'm saying that Holden are marketing the Epica to a crowd of people who never intended to look at it. People who want a car that does what a Toyota does will always buy a Toyota hence why you see Honda (Engineering/engines), Nissan (Hell their midsizer is now a Caliber-esque SUV) Ford/Mazda (Dynamics), Volkswagen (A Mixture of Engineering and dynamics), Subaru (AWD) Peugeot (Styling) all trying to differentiate themselves from the middle of the road mediocrity that is the Camry. Holden has failed to do that
Please add NZ$1,500 to the Mazda 6 GLX 2.0l Sedan (NZ$37,295)for the Automatic option (5 speed) to make this equivelent to the Epica CDX (no manual available).
Also you had better check the latest specs for the Epica - CDX now has ESP and 6 speed Auto standard - and the correct RRP is NZ$33,490.
That's a saving of nearly $4,000. This is quite a significant gap, to me any way. If you check with your local Holden dealer you may even get a bit more off.
BTW - the Mazda 6 GSX with the 2.5l engine makes a staggering 125kw (torque 226NM) vs the Epicas' 115kw (237NM) however the Mazda requires the use of premium unleaded to get that figure. Doesn't look to me that the Epica is far off the pace power wise.

As far as dynamics go, this is a personal opinion area. Some people like a firmer, sporty suspension and others prefer a more comfortable ride. Horses for courses. As an owner of a previous gen Mazda 6 wagon, it is a good car. In fact it was the best 2nd hand wagon on the market value for money. The Mondeo has some rust issues (unbelievable in 2008) and also is not as well specced. The downside of this is that after a 4 hour drive I am really uncomfortable. The Epica has a nicer ride and better seats. If there was a wagon I would probably own one.
Believe me, I never thought Mazda or Ford were the standard bearer in powerplants, but like I said, an Accord Euro gets you 147 Kw/223 Nm for $35,000 (Add $1000 for Auto) all from a 2.4, so if you were after a powerplant, you'd go for the Accord (And beat a V6 Commy to 100 Km/h in the process).

I have not heard of any rust issues in the Mondeo, but do know that the 2001+ models are mostly consistent with the Japanese in reliability and most mechanics I've spoken to have said there's nothing major that's wrong with them. Also the spec in the base Mondeo is completely consistent with the Epica CDX bar alloy wheels and 2 speakers (But I'd argue that these can be easily retrofitted, much easier than retrofitting a kneebag to the Epica), the Mondeo also adds a leather steering wheel. Plus if you wanted Spec for money, then a Civic 2.0S is almost as big as an Epica, yet offers more fruit for less money, such as a sunroof, climate control and leather trim.

Ultimately it seems the market agrees with me when Holden can only shift 450 Epicas against 1250 Mondeos (By then a 7 year old car on runout) and 2000-odd Mazda6's and I find it hard to believe that supply was limited to 450, regardless of NZ being at the bottom of most pecking orders, yet funnily enough they found enough supply to bring in 1100 Captivas last year, in spite of the Captiva having more worldwide sales than the Epica and being sold in more markets. If supply is so badly limited, then they have to do something about it, as the big Aussie cars are fast falling out of favour, the Mondeo has already displaced the Falcon as Ford NZ's #1 selling vehicle and the Focus will probably be only a few units behind as well, they should be looking to the maker who can supply them the most mid-sized sedans, or even running an Epica/Insignia dual model strategy.
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The Epica is not only a lot larger than the Civic but also larger than the Accord Euro. If I wanted a Civic sized car then the Epica (and Mondeo, Mazda 6 etc) would not be shopped.
Also power for Accord Euro is 140kw and is only available when run on Premium unleaded.
The new Civic is about the size of my '95 Accord, I honestly don't know why cars are getting so massive, but it is now at the point where the likes of the Civic and Corolla sedan are family sized cars (Unless you have an obese family I suppose, not all that uncommon these days sadly). The Accord Euro is about to grow in size as of June 19th, but I'd anticipate that pricing will stay the same or close to it. I don't see the issue in using Premium fuel, it's not that much dearer to fill a tank with 95 than it is with 91 and the power is more than worth a few bucks extra.

Check with the lease co's about door rust. I have seen this with my own eyes.
I googled it and under-door rust does seem a small issue, but not huge.

For one the Epica was not on sale for the entire year. Secondly, considering they have run out, I think Holden Aust and NZ may have underestimated the sales potential of these vehicles in their forecasting. Maybe their forecast was based upon previous Vectra sales histories? Also, do the Mondeo numbers count the wagon and hatch sales?
The Epica was on sale since April, which means given a whole years sales it would have been lucky to crack 550. The Mondeo numbers include anything with a Mondeo nameplate, be it a 2.0 base sedan or an ST220 wagon. 1250 was down from just north of 2000 the previous year as people waited for the new model (Accord and Mazda6 suffered similar drops).

Previous Vectra sales histories have ranged from a peak of 1587 back in 2001 down to 599 in 2005 (The last full year of sales), honestly I'd think that given the Vectra was capable of almost 1600 sales back when it was reasonably priced that Holden would have forseen only 450 Epicas, especially since the aim was to sell more Epicas than they did Vectras. If Holden want to actually take on Ford/Mazda they need a wagon and something aimed at drivers above the Epica, because the Epica alone will not do it.

The Epica certainly has its' place, but it's a fairly blunt tool for chasing private buyers and user-choosers and that is something that Holden needs to address before Commodores become niche models kept alive only by exports.
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I'm still surprised at how strong the brand equity is with the Camry, I rented one a few weeks ago (Boggo GL spec) and to this day have found absolutely nothing positive about it, except it was marginally less awful than the 2.4 Altise I drove a few years back (Which left me with knotted back muscles).
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