In light of the recent news that the El Camino-esque style Pontiac G8 ST may be delayed or canceled in advance of its 2010 debut while the tiny G3 (see below) moves forward; it is probably too much to hope that GM will decide to transplant the ST’s larger sibling from Australia; the Holden Sportwagon.
This is not the time that automakers are likely to take many chances. But GM’s reluctance to revive a wagon in the states is also in response to Chrysler’s dismal sales and subsequent cancellation of the Dodge Magnum. While the Magnum definitely brought the real deal in terms of power and increased utility over a traditional sedan, some were not sold on the style of the vehicle which adopted Dodge’s characteristic “crosshair” inspired front grille that permeates the entire lineup. In contrast, the Holden has an aggressive, though clearly sport sedan visage that one would think would resonate more positively than the Magnum with potential buyers. More than that, after years of struggling to make the twin-bladder Pontiac “look” not come off as overdone with a preponderance of extra plastic-ness, Pontiac has found an athletic and aggressive balance wrapped up in the style of the G8. While the Sportwagon looks trim and handsome, employing a G8 front fascia on the Holden would be even more attractive. In fact, with the exception of the extra interior space of the wagon, most if not all of the G8 could be used in a Pontiac version of the Holden.
From a performance standpoint, the Holden, unlike the G3, is already right on target with Pontiac’s heritage and image goals of sporty motoring. Though there are less spirited V6 versions available, the big boy of the bunch is the SS-V 6.0 liter V8 that is mated to a 6 speed transmission. While the V6 engine options, at minimum, still produce the equivalent of 234 horses, the V8 produces a whopping 362 horsepower. While that may be a bit excessive in the current economic climate, there is certainly a happy compromise to be had between power and fuel efficiency. Especially if the Sportwagon were marketed as an SUV/Crossover alternative. In terms of interior utility and amenities, not only is the cavernous interior put together well, but the design of the tailgate facilitates easy loading/unloading of cargo by way of a unique hinge set further into the middle of the vehicle.
No one is suggesting the Holden would be a sure slam dunk sales success in the U.S., but it certainly would be unlike anything else on the road. The same can’t be said of the diminutive G3 which has many competitors.