Ex­clu­sive be­hindthe-scenes drive of the new Colorado.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

FOR its 2017 model up­dates, en­gi­neers from Gen­eral Mo­tors, in­clud­ing Holden per­son­nel, have pulled the Colorado/colorado 7 apart and put it back to­gether with re­vised and new parts from one end to the other. Some of the changes are global, while oth­ers are spe­cific to the Aus­tralian-de­liv­ered Colorado and up­com­ing Trail­blazer. 4X4 Aus­tralia got an ex­clu­sive chance to sam­ple the up­grades prior to the car’s launch, which will be in mid-au­gust.

Since its re­lease in 2012 the Colorado has sold rea­son­ably well, though with­out ever wor­ry­ing the Toy­ota Hilux and Ford Ranger in a highly com­pet­i­tive and ever-grow­ing ute mar­ket. The Colorado’s wagon sib­ling, the Colorado 7 – soon to be re­named the Trail­blazer – has been less of a suc­cess.

After the Com­modore, the Colorado is Holden’s best­selling model and will be­come more sig­nif­i­cant in Holden’s prod­uct mix once local pro­duc­tion of the Com­modore shuts down, late in 2017. Holden buy­ers look­ing for a two-wheel drive ute then won’t be able to buy the Com­modore-based ute, which may boost the slow-sell­ing Colorado 4x2s. And if buy­ers don’t take to the next-gen­er­a­tion Euro­pean-sourced front-drive Com­modore in the same num­bers as they do the cur­rent lo­cally built rear-driver, then the Colorado could well be Holden’s best-sell­ing ve­hi­cle.

With this in mind GM’S en­gi­neers, in­clud­ing Holden per­son­nel, have pulled the Colorado/colorado 7 apart and put it back to­gether with re­vised and new parts from one end to the other. Some of the changes are global, while oth­ers are spe­cific to the Aus­tralian-de­liv­ered Colorado and up­com­ing Trail­blazer. To be frank, the Colorado needed a ma­jor over­haul as it fell short of com­peti­tor utes – par­tic­u­larly the VW Amarok and the Ford Ranger – in a num­ber of key ar­eas.

Holden has sig­nif­i­cantly re­vised its Colorado ute and wagon sib­lings for the 2017 model year. We went be­hind the scenes with Holden’s en­gi­neers to take a look at what’s new.

WHAT’S NEW

CHANGES start with a re­lo­ca­tion of the en­gine’s bal­ance shafts, which are de­signed to counter the in­her­ent dy­namic im­bal­ance of all in­line four-cylin­der en­gines. In the case of the Colorado’s 2.8-litre diesel (see Ital­ian Job side­bar on page 58) the twin shafts, lo­cated in the usual po­si­tion un­der the crank­shaft, have been moved forward 10cm. This change, along with newly de­signed en­gine and trans­mis­sion mounts, is de­signed to ad­dress the much-crit­i­cised harsh feel of the cur­rent en­gine.

On top of this, Aus­tralian mod­els get ad­di­tional en­gine sound­proof­ing to ad­dress the en­gine’s noise is­sues, in­clud­ing an in­jec­tor in­su­la­tor, me­tal tim­ing cover and an oil-pan in­su­la­tor.

Aus­tralian mod­els also get a new torque con­verter for the six-speed auto that in­cor­po­rates a cen­trifu­gal pen­du­lum ab­sorber, which al­lows the torque con­verter to lock up ear­lier and more often and makes for smoother shifts. Mean­while, again for Aus­tralian mod­els, the way-too-tall gear­ing of the six-speed auto has been ad­dressed with the fi­nal-drive ra­tio short­ened a sig­nif­i­cant amount from 3.73:1 to 4.1:1.

Chas­sis changes start with the adop­tion of elec­tric power steer­ing (EPS) in place of the hy­draulic power steer­ing, a change that mir­rors the Ford Ranger – al­though Holden says it was work­ing on EPS well before news broke that Ford was work­ing on the same thing for the Ranger. EPS is be­com­ing pop­u­lar these days, be­cause not hav­ing to use power to drive a hy­draulic pump re­sults in mar­ginal fuel sav­ings, and fuel econ­omy is one of the cur­rent holy grails of new-car de­sign. EPS also al­lows the steer­ing weight to be var­ied al­most in­fin­itely so you can en­joy both light and quick steer­ing at park­ing speeds and slower, weight­ier steer­ing at high­way speeds.

Sus­pen­sion cal­i­bra­tion has been ad­dressed with gen­er­ally softer springs across the front of all ute vari­ants matched to a beefier front sway bar. The wagon’s front springs and sway bar re­main un­changed but, like the ute, there are new dampers all ’round. New OEM Bridge­stone tyres bring lower rolling re­sis­tance, a softer ride and im­proved wet-weather per­for­mance.

The chas­sis con­trol sys­tems for both on- and off-road driv­ing have been re­cal­i­brated. In par­tic­u­lar, trailer-sway, electronic trac­tion and hill-de­scent con­trol sys­tems have been tweaked. These changes are aimed at im­prov­ing off-road per­for­mance for 4x4 vari­ants. As before, the Colorado re­tains a rear me­chan­i­cal limited-slip diff in ad­di­tion to ETC, which Holden says works bet­ter in sit­u­a­tions such as turn­ing out of a cor­ner on a wet bi­tu­men road. The me­chan­i­cal limited slip­per pre­vents the in­ner wheel from spin­ning, which means the po­ten­tially pow­er­rob­bing ETC is not ac­ti­vated.

Ad­di­tional changes aimed at im­prov­ing gen­eral run­ning re­fine­ment and NVH in­clude a new body-mount sys­tem. Com­pres­sion mounts were pre­vi­ously used on all ute vari­ants and the wagon, but now a mix­ture of com­pres­sion and shear mounts are used. Dual-cab utes and the wagon have eight mounts each, while sin­gle and ex­tended-cabs have six mounts each. Re­vised roof mould­ings, ex­te­rior mir­ror mounts, door seals, slid­ing glass chan­nels, B-pil­lar in­serts and

a thicker wind­screen also im­prove re­fine­ment.

New or up­dated safety fea­tures in­clude a driver’s knee airbag, a range-stan­dard re­vers­ing cam­era and high-end ac­tive safety fea­tures such as col­li­sion alert, blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, plus tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing on se­lected mod­els. Holden’s hop­ing for a five-star ANCAP rat­ing – cur­rently only ap­plied to dual-cabs and the wagon – across all vari­ants.

The in­te­rior and dash have been re­vised, though we didn’t get to see this or the ex­te­rior re­design on this drive. Holden has since re­leased the pho­tos you see here.

What we know is satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion is now em­bed­ded, which means you don’t have to rely on a silly phone app for nav­i­ga­tion. Some mod­els will also get re­mote start and auto head­lights with LED day­time run­ning lamps. Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto are also part of a re­vised Mylink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

THE DRIVE

THE sneak pre­view of Holden’s MY17 Colorado was held over two days, ini­tially at Holden’s prov­ing ground at Lang Lang and then on Vic­to­rian coun­try roads and for­est trails. Along for the drive was Holden’s en­gi­neer­ing team, Jeremy Tas­sone (ve­hi­cle devel­op­ment man­ager), Amelinda Watt (lead devel­op­ment en­gi­neer), Rob Tru­biani (ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics spe­cial­ist) and Tony Me­taxas (chas­sis con­trol spe­cial­ist).

We had ac­cess to a MY16 dual-cab for com­par­i­son pur­poses, an ‘in­te­gra­tion’ wagon, a ‘pre-pro­duc­tion’ dual-cab and a ‘man­u­fac­tur­ing val­i­da­tion’ dual-cab, which was the clos­est of the four to a full-pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle.

High­lights at Lang Lang in­cluded a vi­o­lent lanechange at 180km/h on the high-speed bowl and an equally vi­o­lent ESP ADR val­i­da­tion swerve ma­noeu­vre ini­ti­ated by ro­bot con­trol. But the real test came on the on- and off-road drive, where the across-the-board changes could be felt.

Most im­pres­sive was the new EPS, which is light and quick at slow speed, with a nice on-road feel. The en­gine is no­tice­able qui­eter and smoother and the gear­ing of the man­ual much more real-world us­able. The ride qual­ity and gen­eral re­fine­ment, es­pe­cially at slower speed on rough roads and trails, is also much im­proved.

De­spite now meet­ing Euro 5 emis­sions stan­dards (helped by the ad­di­tion of a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter) the claimed power and torque fig­ures – 147kw/500nm (auto) and 147kw/440nm (man­ual) – re­main un­changed. Not that this is an is­sue, as the Colorado (at least with the pop­u­lar six-speed auto) is the fastest ac­cel­er­at­ing diesel ute in its class, helped in part by be­ing lighter than its key ri­vals. The man­ual, de­spite hav­ing less torque than the auto, feels more spritely again – even more so with the shorter fi­nal-drive gear­ing.

That the Colorado is a bet­ter thing than before is not in doubt, though the acid test will be how it stacks up against the op­po­si­tion – namely the best-sell­ing Hilux and Ranger. We will only know how that pans out when we line up the MY17 Colorado in a multi-ute com­par­i­son test!

That the Colorado is a bet­ter thing than before is not in doubt. The acid test will be how it stacks up against the best-sell­ing Hilux and Ranger

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