NZ market right for SportsCat, HSV believes

HSV reckons Kiwis are going to like its re-engineered Colorado ute – though it also agrees perhaps the interest won’t come from the trad performance-chasing customer powerbase.


KIWI interest in high falutin’ one-tonne utes lends confidence in the SportsCat, Holden Special Vehicles’ first new model since the end of the Australian Commodore, doing well here

That thought is offered by the brand in the aftermath of its version of the Holden Colorado dual cab being revealed.

Representing in SportsCat and SportsCat Plus editions, the new product represents an abdication from old-style HSV product ploy insofar as the performance pitch goes.

There’s no ‘power play’ whatsoever because it has the same 2.8 litre turbodiesel engine in identical 147kW/500Nm tune as a regular Colorado.

However, it can rely on other traditional HSV strengths – notably an emboldened body styling and also a beefed-up suspension tuning, though again it takes a fresh direction insofar the set-up is for dirt, rather than race, tracks.

Much might well depend on price and, though the new ute is set to hit our roads in just a few weeks, HSV is in no hurry to announce what it will cost.

It says that won’t happen until closer to its showroom availability. It seems a safe bet to assume the model will sit comfortably above the sportiest ‘regular’ Colorado four-door, the $65,000 Z71 crewcab.

That won’t avoid comparison with the most obvious rival to cause performance anxiety, the V6 Volkswagen Amarok, which can be bought into for $60,000, though most fans prefer the 165kW/550Nm unit in the Aventura edition, which at $82k stands as the market’s most expensive traydeck – though perhaps only until the six-cylinder editions of the Mercedes X-Class lands.

Another obvious competitor will be the incoming Ford Ranger Raptor, which is expected to launch later in 2018 and offer similar levels of power and chassis development.

Nonetheless, the ute market has been such a boom area for the past 24 months that few offers have failed to be winners. HSV doesn’t disagree with the proposition that the potential here is even better than in Australia.

Says Damon Paull, general manager of marketing: “We see great potential in the continued growth of the “premium” sub-segment of the pick-up 4x4 market both in New Zealand and in Australia.

“Our product’s unique on and off-road capabilities combined with its distinctive styling and enhanced comfort levels has us excited at its potential.”

HSV managing director Tim Jackson says the SportsCat had been in development for two years and that the company had grown more excited by the vehicle as the development period progressed.The operation has acknowledged that the model will likely appeal to a different set of customers – and not necessarily existing customers of the brand.

Why hasn’t it been given more oomph? HSV agrees this has been the priority for past clientele, but explains that adding more power came down to a cost-versus-benefits equation as well as issues around emissions requirements. It also reckons ute buyers are more interested in the “complete package”, not simply kapow.

The SportsCat differs from the regular Colorado externally by dint of a revised grille, new LED spotlights and lower valance, stock wheel flares for the SportsCat and more aggressive versions and a bulged bonnet for the SportsCat Plus, and machined trims for the rear tray’s rollover bar supports.

The rear end is unchanged, save for the addition of a large trim decal and a strut for the tailgate. Also, HSV has commission a bespoke cantilevered quick-release hard tonneau cover, into which a pair of accessory mounting rails is also built.Bespoke Cooper all-terrain tyres are used on both variants, with a full size spare mounted on a custom wedge to improve the SportsCat’s departure angle measurement in off-road conditions.

The main changes come in the area of suspension set-up, with both versions sitting 25mm higher in the front on stiffer springs than the Z71. Re-valved Tenneco dampers – as used by HSV in the ClubSport R8 – are standard on both versions, while the SportsCat Plus offers bespoke, large-diameter remote-canister dampers from Adelaide company Supashock as an option.

The Plus also uses a decoupling device on the rear sway bar, which disconnects the bar when low-range 4x4 is selected to aid articulation of the rear wheel. Rear springs are still leaf.

Larger four-piston AP Racing brakes are fitted to the front of the SportsCat Plus, but drum brakes are retained on both models in the rear.

HSV has also recalibrated the Colorado’s stability and traction control systems, along with its ABS capability.

Both utes retain a 3500kg braked trailer towing capacity, although payload capacity is slightly reduced thanks to the extra weight of the vehicle.

The interior is no different in overall design to that of a regular Colorado, but the front seats are rebuilt to HSV specifications from stock items, while the dash, steering wheel and gear shifter is retrimmed in a combination of leather and suede. However, as with the regular Colorado, the steering column does not adjust for reach.

Both variants have an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, remote window activation, remote start (on the auto only) and a seven-speaker audio, as well as driver technology aids like rain sensing wipers, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, front and rear park assist, rearview camera and seven airbags.