Tested: Holden Special Vehicles’ Colorado ute

King Commodore is dead and it’s time for a new ruler at Holden Special Vehicles. It’s no surprise that the Colorado ute has been elevated to the top spot, given the popularity of the new generation of sports trucks in Australia.

But here is a twist — there’s no sign of a V8, or even extra diesel grunt, for the two-model SportsCat by HSV.

“Our traditional customers are about power, power, power. But this is about the overall package,” says HSV managing director Tim Jackson, introducing the SportsCat.

Tested: Holden Special Vehicles’ Colorado ute | Pacific newsHSV’s Colorado Sports Cat. Pic: Supplied.

He says merely giving it more power “just didn’t make sense. The challenge we laid down was the on-road driving dynamic.”

So the SportsCat — no firm price yet, but likely to be just over $60,000 in the new year — is all about the suspension. There is also the predictable toughening of the dual-cab’s looks and, in the cabin, leather luxury and sports seats.

The most-obvious changes are a 30mm wider track, a 25mm lift to the front suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels with Cooper Zeon tyres and guard flares to cover the work.

Tested: Holden Special Vehicles’ Colorado ute | Pacific newsHSV’s latest effort doesn’t involve any engine modifications. Pic: Supplied.

The SportsCat + also gets Supashock dampers developed in South Australia and clever tech that decouples the rear anti-roll bar for off-road work, where it would normally limit the wheel articulation.

The really tricky stuff is the electronic calibration of the SportsCat’s various features, especially the electronic stability control which intervenes earlier but less aggressively.

The body changes by HSV design guru Julian Quincey run to a wider grille, bonnet bulge, prominent towing hooks in the nose, bash plate, hard tonneau and “sail plane” rollover bar on the Sportscat + that was inspired by wakeboard boats.

Tested: Holden Special Vehicles’ Colorado ute | Pacific newsThe interior has been reworked. Pic: Supplied.

The suspension changes, as well as bigger and better brakes, were even racetrack tested while HSV was finalising the final king-of-the-hill W1 Commodore.

“We wanted to set a new benchmark for on-road performance in that segment and improved the off-road capability. We’ve set ourselves a pretty significant challenge,” says engineering chief Joel Stoddart.

Tested: Holden Special Vehicles’ Colorado ute | Pacific newsRaising the profile: the HSV Colorado will take on top-end HiLuxes and Rangers. Pic: Supplied.


The SportsCats look suitably toughened but the grumbling diesel engines are a let-down at the preview action at the Mount Cotton track in Queensland.

The ute regains favour with the sports seats and leather-wrapped wheel — and keep it forever in the first set of corners. Finally, this is a ute I don’t hate driving.

It’s not an HSV Commodore but the steering feel is good, it turns without tyre squeal or excessive front-end push and there is no sign of the dreaded rear-end bucking that scars most utes.

Tested: Holden Special Vehicles’ Colorado ute | Pacific newsThe Colorado drives well for a pick-up. Pic: Supplied.

The SportsCat + is outstanding in a wet braking exercise that would have every other ute rival ploughing straight ahead in search of the scenery.

The HSV truckster relies heavily on the anti-lock braking but still responds to the steering, generating enough cornering grip for the stability control activating to settle the rear instead of fighting for the front.

On laps of the closed track, both utes sit well with great feel through the brake pedal and solid stopping power.

Tested: Holden Special Vehicles’ Colorado ute | Pacific newsThe front end has had a major restyling from the base model. Pic: Supplied.


The SportsCat + is the right choice for some serious off-road climbing. With its trick rear anti-roll bar, it wins me at the first deep ruts. The Colorado keeps its Coopers on the ground and rolls easily through the challenging ruts and a long uphill run that follows.

It’s a big truck with slow steering, which means planning ahead through trees and for a steep downhill pinch.

The electronics work well controlling descents and there is not a single drama.

Originally published as HSV builds a tougher pick-up

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