HSV's new Colorado SportsCat driven
HSV will be entering the double cab ute market with its Colorado SportsCat. Based on the Holden Colorado Z71, HSV has restyled the truck, honed its on road handling while also improving its off road capabilities to produce what it says is ‘the most advanced sports 4x4 on the market.’
Having recently reached a new agreement with Holden, HSV is entering what it calls a new era. As HSV boss, Tim Jackson, said at the reveal of the new ute, the company was facing the textbook definition of an existential crisis, and it needed to reinvent itself. “We asked ourselves two questions; where will we play and how will we compete? The company’s tradition is adding value to existing products, which we’d done so well for the past 30 years with the Commodore, but we needed to look at which segments were growing, and to what vehicles we could apply our expertise.”
The Colorado SportsCat is a ute that Jackson thinks “moves things along in the category but it doesn’t have a power up and we’re actually pretty comfortable with that.” He says the goal was to focus on improving the total package in terms of capability. “Not only do we think we have a great benchmark in terms of on road driving but we’ve actually improved the off road capability as well.”
Jackson says there are a few reasons for leaving the engine alone, chiefly the cost, complexity and time to create what he says was going to be a very minor increase. “Given this was a new segment for us, we did some research and what we got back was more about the overall package. Our traditional customer is all about power, and more power, but here it’s the total package that really matters.”
Two models will be offered, SportsCat and SportsCat+. Both feature HSV sports suspension with new dampers and a 10 per cent stiffer front spring. Further front end stiffening comes from a strut brace and a bigger front roll bar. The new spring also lifts the front by 25mm, which levels the stance and also improves the approach angle from 28 to 32 degrees. Forged 18-inch wheels are 10 inches wide and come wrapped in Cooper Zeon LTZ Pro 285/60 R18 tyres. Mounted on an offset, there is a 30mm increase in track and the rubber also adds a further 20mm lift with ground clearance totalling 251mm.
There’s a visual difference between the models; the SportsCat has a cleaner, pared-back look while the Plus is bolder, more aggressive with unique grilles, functional tow hooks and a bonnet bulge. Both have LED foglamps. The Plus also sports bigger, bolder flares. The tailgate wears a Colorado graphic, features a gas strut for a soft opening and a tray liner is standard. Both have a removable hard tonneau with the design of the sportsbar different on each.
Inside are new SV seats, reprofiled with a new base and larger bolsters, and they’re retrimmed in combination of Windsor suede and perforated leather. There’s a new suede dash pad with red stitching which also features on the seats, wheel, and door trims, although nothing has been done to address the hard plastic on the door tops.
We sampled the new rigs at the Mount Cotton Driver Training Centre in Brisbane recently where we found the sum of the additions do make a more impressive Colorado. On road the Colorado’s mass is better controlled, the front end pointier and yet the ride quality remains. The big Coopers provide much improved overall grip and for all terrain rubber, they provide a good feel for the limits.
To highlight the ESP tune we took to a slick skid pan where it proved very effective at keeping the SportsCat online, the system working smoothly to keep you rolling along. With TC off, it will slide around a bit before the ESP tidies it up. Turn everything off, and it goes sideways very quickly. While there was more spinning than controlled sliding, it proved the SportsCat can be a lark. Topping off the all-round capabilities, we took to the off-road trails of the facility where the SportsCat demonstrated its rugged side, climbing steep rutted tracks, the ample clearance and the big grippy tyres making easy work of the path.
The only downside we can see is the fact that the SportsCat is slower than the donor Z71 model. It’s heavier (HSV claim 2274kg for the Plus auto vs 2143kg for the Z71), and with its larger wheels the final drive is taller so acceleration is blunted.
HSV is not talking price yet, other than saying it hopes to have the SportsCat on sale in Australia for around the low $60k mark with the plus in the high sixties. A Z71 retails for $55k in Oz, here it’s $65k so expect the SportsCat to start with a seven, and an optioned up Plus to nudge close to eighty grand. The first units will be on the ground early in the New Year.