HSV SportsCat+

Life after Commodore at Clayton? It looks like this

RYAN LEWIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

THEY say America is the land of second acts. It might be the only place on earth where a heavily accented Austrian bodybuilder can make a Hollywood fortune then reinvent himself as a politician to govern the state that made him famous.

Improved capability; road presence; clever de-coupling rear anti-roll bar PLUS & MINUS Same outputs as donor Colorado; silly name; hefty price premium

Model Holden Colorado SportsCat+ by HSV

Engine 2776cc 4cyl, 16v, dohc, turbo-diesel

Max power 147kW @ 3600rpm

Max torque 500Nm @ 2000rpm

Transmission 6-speed automatic

Weight 2274kg 0-100km/h 10.5sec (estimated)

Economy 9.1L/100km

Price $68,990

On sale Now

Arnieís metamorphosis could provide inspiration for the folks at HSV. Transformation is precisely what the local outfit is going through post-Commodore, but a wary Australian public means its second coming as a dual-cab ute vendor presents a few hazards.

The full moniker of its entrant is Holden Colorado SportsCat by HSV. The awkward suffix suggests thereís a little discomfort at Clayton about going all-in with HSV branding even though SportsCat is currently the only product in its dealerships.

Keeping an armís-length may be down to the fact it makes no more power than a standard Colorado: 147kW and 440Nm with a manual or 500Nm with the optional auto ($2200). Thereís nothing wrong with the burly 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel in this application, but itís a big departure for HSV, especially left untouched.

Thatís not to say HSV has sat on its hands here. Both versions, SportsCat ($60,790) and SportsCat+ ($66,790), have extensive suspension, braking and styling upgrades making them better on- and off-road.

The SportsCat+ tested here is expected to be the popular choice. Itís the more heavily stylised of the pair, including a non-functional bonnet bulge and optional rear sail-plane ($1300) inspired by ski boats. A lower bash plate, LED lamps and tow hooks add utility and road presence.

Ride height has grown 25mm with a front suspension lift (to even out rake), and a taller 285/60 Cooper tyre developed with HSV adds another 10mm for total ground clearance of 251mm. Arch extensions house 18x10inch forged alloys and keep the 30mm wider track within check. Strut bracing inside the arches adds rigidity, and a larger (33mm) front anti-roll bar and the addition of a rear anti-roll bar (22mm) in the SportsCat+ deliver better cornering support.

On road the uprated suspension brings clear handling improvements, with better body control than expected from this class of vehicle without a pronounced impact on the rough and ready ride comfort thatís par for the course in this category. Buyers flush with cash can option even tougher SupaShock suspension ($3600) with external oil reservoirs similar to that in the HSV GTSR W1.

Up front, four-piston AP Racing brakes clamp 362mm rotors, and a larger master cylinder reduces pedal travel for greater feel. The stoppers work well considering the 2274kg heft theyíre arresting.

But this is obviously not a sports car, and still needs armfuls of steering to wind lock-to-lock. The rubber at each corner hangs on reasonably well at normal road speeds, but squeals early in faster cornering. Driven like the dual-cab that it is, itís a more competent package than a regular Colorado.

Inside, sports seats trimmed in leather and suede feature a unique base with larger bolsters. Itís otherwise standard Colorado Z71 fare including Apple and Android connectivity, 8.0-inch screen, reversing camera, lane-departure warning and remote start.

Few could have known 30 years ago that HSV was building a house on sand by focusing on a single large sedan. SportsCat may sound like a stab in the dark in Commodoreís immediate wake, but the execution is good enough that it could prove a solid foundation for HSVís reinvention.

RYAN LEWIS

Built to scale

Increased approach and departure angles lift SportsCatís off-road cred, as does a rear anti-roll bar that electronically decouples when low-range is selected for full rear-axle articulation. HSV points out that while enthusiasts can bolt parts to a Colorado for a seemingly similar result to SportsCat, they canít tune the ESC to support their mods, something HSV has done for all three drive modes (2WD High, 4WD High and 4WD Low).