Holden hasn’t tinkered with a car like this since the 1993 Holden Jackaroo HSV but unlike the old sticker pack 4x4, this Colorado has undergone some serious engineering.
Despite HSV’s involvement, the Colorado Sportscat is simply called a Holden ‘by HSV’ rather than sitting directly in the brand’s line-up, and it’s a sign of things to come in the new tie-up between Holden and the tuning shop.
Presumably more performance enhanced models will be called HSVs but until then, and while the helmet and lion brand are busy converting the new Chevrolet Camaro and Silverado, this high riding ute is probably as close to a HSV-tuned car as we’ll see for the next 12 months.
And not only is it the first vehicle to wear HSV’s re-designed badge under the new partnership, but it’s also going into battle against the highly successful Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux – two cars which the Holden Colorado and its poor sales haven’t been able to touch.
But it shouldn’t be such a tough battle at the pointy-end now. HSV hasn’t touched the engine but it has comprehensively re-tuned the chassis and added enough of a burly look that the Sportscat is going to stand out on the road. And because the power hasn’t been tinkered with – and it didn’t need more power to stay true to its utilitarian roots – the price isn’t going to sting.
HSV isn’t revealing just what those number are yet but has hinted that we can expect the Colorado Sportscat to start on the low side of $60,000 - around $4000 more than the Toyota HiLux SR5 and on par with the Ford Ranger Wildtrack.
Vehicle Style: 4x4 Dual-cab utility
Price: $60,000 plus on-road costs (estimated)
Engine/trans: 147kW/440Nm (manual) 500Nm (auto) 2.8-litre 4cyl turbo diesel | 6spd manual and automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.7 l/100km
The Sportscat comes in two flavours, Sportscat and Sportscat+, and both are wider and taller compared to the standard Colorado, increasing its ground clearance to 251mm, approach angle to 32 degrees and departure angle to 24 degrees.
HSV’s pen work has also helped it look tougher with new grilles, fender flares, hard tonneau cover, black tailgate branding, 18-inch alloys with 285mm wide rubber, fog lamps, bash plates and red tow hooks.
The Sportscat, which HSV says will account for more than half of all sales, has a wider front grille, different flares, bonnet-bulge and unique ‘sail plane’ tonneau lid inspired by wakeboarding boats.
The special vehicles team’s involvement has also extended to changes underneath the skin,
And every bit added to the Sportscat has undergone consideration before being rolled-out. For instance, its 30mm wider track (15mm each wheel) with 18x10-inch alloys and specially-developed 285/60 rubber underwent durability testing on and off-road, including twisting and chassis abuse testing, before it was given the greenlight.
The front springs are stiffer and 25mm higher, a front strut brace and 33mm anti-roll bar added, ESC recalibrated and MTV (multi-tuned valve dampers from the Clubsport R8) tuned to match the new setup. Even the brake master cylinder was increased 2.6mm in diameter just so the pedal feel was to HSV standards.
The Sportscat+ model gets a few extra items including a rear de-coupling 22mm anti-roll bar, 4-piston AP Racing brakes with 362mm rotors and the option to add Supashock suspension equipped with blow-off valves for large hits and extended use off-road.
The rest of the driveline remains unchanged from the standard 4x4 dual-cab Colorado, which is powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine producing 147kW and 440Nm (manual) or 500Nm (auto) of torque.
- Standard Equipment: Leather trim, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, power-adjustable front seats with seat heating, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, seven-speaker audio
Inside is equipped with standard Colorado features plus some special HSV appointments.
Rounding out the equipment list are rain sensing wipers, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, front and rear park assist, 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear view camera, remote engine start and 7 speaker sound system.
HSV’s touch adds Australian made red stitched black suede leather bolstered SV sports seats, and similar looking dash inserts, door inserts and arm rest. The items are fitted at HSV’s Clayton facility where the undercarriage is also enhanced.
The HSV trim is a nice touch but the main steering wheel, which is the main contact point, would benefit from a nicer unit that only gets some red stitching and a new HSV logo. It also lacks any reach adjustment which, with a lack of seat adjustment, doesn’t offer the best driving position - a standard complaint in its segment.
Being a work ute the Colorado isn’t going to win any awards for comfort – though the Volkswagen Amarok V6 might have something to say about that – but it remains comfortable enough with heated front seats and enough room in the back for kids or even teenagers to keep themselves amused.
The tray has also been modified with a gas strut tailgate for gentle opening and inside the tub are loading-rails with quick release storage accessories and a 1534mm wide by 1484mm long tray.
As an overall package the Sportscat looks tough, and is going to please most buyers after an off the shelf tough truck.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.8-litre turbo 4cyl petrol, 147kW @ 3600rpm, 440Nm (manual) or 500Nm (auto) @ 2000rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic or manual, four wheel drive
- Brakes: 362mm ventilated front discs with four-piston AP Performance callipers (Sportscat+)
- Steering: Electric power steering
- Towing Capacity: 3500kg braked, 750kg unbraked, 350kg towball load
With only limited time to drive pre-production models of the Sportcat and Sportcat+ at Queensland’s Mount Cotton driving facility we’ll reserve final judgement until it official launches in February next year. But from what we experienced, the Sportscat is a step-up to drive and its wide Cooper tyres extenuate the tough look.
HSV’s focus was improving the Colorado’s ride both on and off-road – a hard balancing act – and its efforts have made a noticeable improvement to the ute's behaviour.
The stiffer front-end feels more stable and communicative in response which gives more confidence to push a little harder. On a wet skid pan the Colorado, with ESC off, proved predictably fun, but it was with the recalibrated ESC on that it was most impressive.
The revised stability control settings for 2WD high still provide for some ‘fun’ on a slippery surface but keep the light weight rear from coming around on itself, no matter how hard it is provoked.
The four-wheel drive modes for high and low provide an increasing amount of traction and HSV has also modified the settings for 4WD high so that it gives a little more slip on surfaces such as gravel while keeping things tidy.
Without much road to drive on it's hard to gauge the complete package, but the tyre roar from the massive 285mm wide tyres aren’t as intrusive as expected and the ride feels compliant.
The Sportscat+ benefits from the bigger 4-piston AP Racing brakes and rear anti-roll bar when pushing on, but the Sportscat is more than comfortable to work hard and doesn’t feel that it necessitates an upgrade in stopping power.
Braking performance was just as assuring and an emergency stopping procedure through a 90-degree turn highlighted the new ESC tune, with no understeer or loss of stability creeping in to the high-riding ute.
The Colorado Sportscat remains a capable off-roader with 4WD low and hill descent control and has enough ability to match its new look. The rear anti-roll bar fitted to the Sportcat+ will also de-couple in low-range for better off-road performance.
A short trundle around a narrow and craggy bush track highlighted its dual-purpose ability that most buyers will want, even if it’s not fully explored. Hill descent is revised and still works as advertised, and the extra-large tyres provide a big footprint. The addition of Supashocks, as a cost-option fitted at the dealer-level under warranty, are another benefit for serious off-roaders.
ANCAP Rating: The standard Holden Colorado has been rated five stars by ANCAP in 2016.
Safety Features: Seven airbags (Dual frontal, side chest and side head-protecting airbags (curtains) and a driver knee airbag are standard), electronic stability, traction control forward collision alert, lane departure warning and front and rear park assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Given it misses out on the usual HSV performance treatment it’s understandable the Holden Colorado Sportscat doesn’t fall solely under the HSV model range. However, the intention is right, with all changes improving the ute, and in terms of propping up the Colorado so it gets noticed by the HiLux and Ranger crowd, HSV has done the job.
Beyond the comprehensive chassis tune which make the Sportscat a nicer truck to drive, more influential to buyers will be how it looks, and the Sportscat might just conquer that part of the market.
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