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General Motors’ Australian Holden has unveiled the SSX, an apparently production-ready ‘concept’ all-wheel-drive crossover sports hatchback said to herald the next generation of locally-designed and built models.

The fully drivable ‘prototype’, displayed at this week’s Sydney motor show until October 27, is a luxury four-seater ‘lifestyle’ car combining V8 performance, all-wheel drive and cargo carrying convenience.

The flat-floor, multi-purpose load area is accessible through a large rear hatch and can be extended by folding the back seats flush with the floor and dropping the fold-down end gate.

Holden managing director Peter Hanenberger believes models like the SSX will complement the off-road AWD ability of the upcoming Cross8 as Holden enters a new era of manufacturing flexibility based around families of niche vehicles.

“SSX is our vision of the future. It is the cream of our Australian design and engineering expertise channelled into a car of world class standard. It heralds a family of low ride height, inspirational all-wheel-drive niche performance vehicles that could become reality in less than two years,” Hanenberger said.

Holden design chief Michael Simcoe said the wide track SSX can be described as the ultimate expression of Holden performance, but it is also a clear expression of how functional a range of niche vehicles can be.

“We’re asking questions with this show car. We want people to tell us if a flexible performance vehicle like this is something they’d like to see in a few years. We’re saying that where we are with the Commodore SS right now isn’t necessarily the only way to go. We intend to expand the range with more and more inspirational niche models with a variety of powertrains, drive systems and innovative body styles,” he said.

“Like the Cross8 off road all-wheel-drive that’s due for release next year, the low ride height SSX is based on our versatile V-car platform – and both vehicles point to a new era of production flexibility at Holden,” Simcoe added.

Displayed with brilliant ‘Kryptonite’ green paint and a black-on black interior, the V8-powered SSX has a wide track, wheel arch extensions over 19-inch magnesium alloys, front fender vents, Venturi-style aerodynamic underpans – punctuated at the rear by twin central exhausts – and dual aircraft-style fuel filler doors.

Styling cues are take from the newly-launched VY Commodore with a more aggressive edge – in front a bold, deeper facia with twin projector headlamps, foglamps and exclusive grille. At the rear, the hatch is cleverly integrated and edged with a slim black spoiler. Unique blackout tail lamps also distinguish the SSX.

The interior has black leather sports seats in 2+2 configuration, bisected by an elongated centre console in brushed Titan silver. Silver accents on the sports instrument cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel and transmission shifter complement matt black, soft-feel trim finishes. In contrast, the high-mounted multi-function display screen, instrument and climate control clusters and auxiliary switches are red-illuminated.

The rear load compartment has a matt black floor bisected by stainless steel wear strips, and side storage compartments finished in Titan silver. With either or both of the rear seats folded, the steel-highlighted floor finish continues and an integrated rear storage bin remains accessible.

The Holden SSX design concept is powered by a high output, 5.7 litre Generation III V8 engine.