We already know Holden will flex is design muscles moving forward, as the brand winds down local manufacturing and closes up shop by the end of 2017, but there will be more to the brand moving forward.
One of the major decisions surrounding Holden, following the news of its manufacturing base, was keeping the Lang Lang proving grounds open and operational. The proving grounds will play a key role for incoming Holden models, sourced from around the globe.
Wheels spoke with Jeremy Tassone, Holden vehicle development manager, who admitted the previous-generation Barina Spark was a disappointment on the development side of things. The 2016 Holden Spark would not make the same mistake.
“This new car needed to be really good to drive,” he said. “Yes, it’s primarily a city car, but we had to also make sure it was capable and confident on country roads. We know the target market are not boy racers; we know no one is going to go rallying in it, but it still had to be properly engaging to drive.”
From the beginning, Holden was involved with the development of the platform itself. The brand had major input through a slew of selection processes, including anti-roll bars, springs dampers, electric power steering (EPS) tuning and ESC calibration. Each of these fields were honed locally for Australian drivers.
“Our process starts with [vehicle dynamics engineer] Rob Trubiani pounding a prototype around Lang Lang,” said Tassone. “He’ll make a list of key areas he thinks need addressing, then myself and other members of the team will do our evaluations and we compare notes. From there, damper development can start. The supplier sends us a set of fully rebuildable and tunable dampers which allows us to experiment with valves and flow rates and so on, and test both on the car and on a suspension dyno. Once we’ve arrived at a tune, that specification is provided to the supplier, and a sealed set is sent to us, which are ideally close to final production spec.”
The process will become extremely important as models from Europe and the United States, which ride quite differently, continue to fill up the new Holden lineup. There’s plenty of life down under yet, it’s merely beneath the surface.