Holden Colorado LTZ

COLORADO RAISES ITS GAME RIGHT WHEN HOLDEN NEEDS A HERO

Wheels (Australia) - - First Drives -

WHILE all eyes are on Mercedes-benz’s new­comer and Volk­swa­gen’s V6 pow­er­house, let’s not over­look what is ar­guably the most sig­nif­i­cant of the nine ve­hi­cles here, the un­der­rated Colorado.

With slid­ing sales in Holden’s tra­di­tional seg­ments co­in­cid­ing with fresh po­ten­tial found in the dual-cab ute arena, the Colorado could be the Lion brand’s saviour. And the heav­ily up­dated ver­sion ab­so­lutely has the cre­den­tials to do that. Com­pletely re­vamped in 2016, it re­ceived far more than a few USB ports and a shot of Bo­tox, bring­ing forth dra­matic im­prove­ments that still stack up well even against more re­cent ar­rivals. Let’s call it the re­birth of Colorado.

For starters, a cabin re­think brings an at­trac­tive and very func­tional dash­board that’s suit­ably chunky yet thought­fully pre­sented. Broad, sup­ple front seats pro­vide plenty of sup­port, and while the (ugly) steer­ing wheel lacks reach ad­justa­bil­ity like the Ranger and oth­ers here, the driv­ing po­si­tion should be fine for most folk. There’s also heaps of in­ter­nal stor­age op­tions, ven­ti­la­tion is ex­cel­lent, and the rear seat is sur­pris­ingly ac­com­mo­dat­ing – bar a back­rest fold­ing mech­a­nism that re­quires two peo­ple to op­er­ate.

Then there’s the re­vised chas­sis – in­clud­ing new trans­mis­sion and sus­pen­sion mounts, and up­graded springs and dampers – which has made a re­sound­ing dif­fer­ence. Where the Colorado’s ride and NVH lev­els pre­vi­ously rel­e­gated it among the also-rans, the up­date has had a pro­found ef­fect el­e­vat­ing com­fort and per­ceived qual­ity in one swoop. The 2.8-litre Du­ra­max diesel – ac­tu­ally a VM Mo­tori lump – still sings a fa­mil­iar, clat­tery anthem, but it sounds as if it has been buried un­der a few more blan­kets cour­tesy of su­pe­rior road-noise in­su­la­tion.

With 500Nm, the Colorado shines among the four­pots with strong pulling power from very low revs. We man­aged the 0-100km/h dash in 9.5sec, which might not sound like much in an era when small hatches can crack 8.0sec, but the Hilux couldn’t bet­ter 11.2. And the Holden is fru­gal to boot.

The Colorado also gains marks for com­pe­tent han­dling and (com­par­a­tive) dy­namic re­fine­ment. Yes, the un­laden ride is firm, just like most one-ton­ners (apart from Amarok), but a tuned-to-aus­tralian-taste chas­sis re­ally han­dles our en­vi­ron­ment with un­ex­pected aplomb and no nasty shocks. While the steer­ing is a tad too light in the dead-ahead po­si­tion, there’s zero rack rat­tle and the Colorado’s high­speed han­dling – par­tic­u­larly on chang­ing sur­faces – is right up with the seg­ment best. The Lang Lang sus­pen­sion hon­ing should make the most one-eyed pa­triot proud, even if this ute hails from Thai­land.

As a value propo­si­tion the Holden con­tin­ues to punch hard, with a five-year war­ranty on top of the $52,690 LTZ’S gen­er­ous flash for the cash, which in­cludes elec­tric front seats, a sports bar, Ap­ple Carplay, nav­i­ga­tion, re­mote win­dow open­ing, re­mote start, hill-de­scent tech, for­ward col­li­sion alert, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing.

When away from the beaten trail, the Colorado sits in the mid­dle of the pack with de­cent off-road abil­ity. While it can’t brag the out­right sus­pen­sion travel of the Amarok, Hilux, Ranger or BT-50, and lacks a lock­ing dif­fer­en­tial, it of­fers ex­cel­lent trac­tion over more slip­pery sur­faces. Tow­ing ca­pac­ity is more than ad­e­quate, too, with the Holden’s read­ily ac­ces­si­ble torque and sta­ble chas­sis hold­ing sta­tion with the class lead­ers.

The lo­cal­i­sa­tion of the Colorado has re­sulted in a pick-up that is far bet­ter than any pre­vi­ous ver­sion, el­e­vat­ing it to a highly re­spectable fourth po­si­tion in this Megatest. The more time we spent with the LTZ the more ob­vi­ous its many strengths (with few weak­nesses) be­came. If only buy­ers in this seg­ment in­vested the same scru­tiny, for Holden’s sake at the very least. DG + BM

On the QT

Holden en­gi­neers honed the Colorado over two years with a fo­cus on noise sup­pres­sion. Body, engine and trans­mis­sion mounts were beefed to cut NVH path­ways. In ad­di­tion, elec­tric power steer­ing was adopted, with a quicker rack, re­tuned trac­tion/sta­bil­ity elec­tron­ics, di­gres­sive dampers, larger anti-roll bars, re­vised springs, and dif­fer­ent tyres.

THE MORE TIME WE SPENT WITH COLORADO, THE MORE OB­VI­OUS ITS MANY STRENGTHS BE­CAME

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