HOLDEN COLORADO 2WD ROAD TEST

New Zealand LCV - - CONTENTS - BY MIKE STOCK

Rear-wheel drive utes ac­count for 10 per­cent of all lo­cal pick-up truck sales. The Edi­tor sam­ples Holden’s Colorado LTZ.

IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THERE’S NO DRIV­ING ex­pe­ri­ence quite like the sat­is­fac­tion you get from driv­ing a fine-han­dling big rear-wheel drive car along a wind­ing road. Sure, well-sorted front-wheel drives and – es­pe­cially – all­wheel drives like Subaru’s Legacy pro­vide plenty of sat­is­fac­tion when the spirit of the boy takes over and you go driv­ing purely for the joy of it.

But there’s an el­e­ment miss­ing – the sheer ex­hil­a­ra­tion of turn­ing a big rear-wheel drive car into a high-speed bend and feel­ing the out­side rear tyre bite as the weight trans­fers and the car ac­cel­er­ates ea­gerly off the cor­ner.

It’s that feel­ing of bal­ance that made the sportier big Aussie cars like the V8-pow­ered Holden Com­modore SS and the tur­bocharged six-cylin­der Ford Fal­con F6 so en­gag­ing to drive.

The Fal­con XR6 turbo ute has been my favourite since I first drove it. Pos­sessed of enough power, a sub­lime chas­sis and a han­dling nim­ble­ness, it was truly a sports car with a load tray.

But I’ve just found a new sub­ject for my au­to­mo­tive af­fec­tions. It’s not a big rear-wheel drive Aussie car – they’re about to de­part the new ve­hi­cle scene for­ever when Holden stops build­ing Com­modore cars and utes later this year.

But it’s a ute that proudly wears what’s ar­guably the proud­est Aussie au­to­mo­tive badge: the rear-wheel drive Colorado LTZ ute has cer­tainly called my eye and turned my head.

As a city dweller, I don’t re­ally have a need for a four-wheel drive pick-up truck; the most chal­leng­ing ter­rain I might en­counter is a gravel road – and even that is very in­fre­quently.

So a rear-drive dou­ble cab ute would fit the bill, with the added ben­e­fit of a load tray for the times I might need to haul some gear.

The LTZ is the top-of-the-line in the 2WD Colorado range. It has a com­pre­hen­sive spec­i­fi­ca­tion that in­cludes stylish ma­chine­faced 12-spoke 18-inch al­loy wheels.

There’s also Holden’s Mylink In­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto; power win­dows and ex­te­rior mir­rors, and the driver’s seat is elec­tri­cally-ad­justable in six directions. A soft ton­neau cover for the load tray is stan­dard.

The safety kit in­cludes seven airbags: front and side for the driver and front seat pas­sen­ger, cabin-length side cur­tains, and a knee bag for the driver.

And it has lane de­par­ture warn­ing, a tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, for­ward col­li­sion alert with head-up warn­ing, hill start as­sist, and a re­vers­ing cam­era.

The engine is the re­vised ver­sion of the 2.8-litre Du­ra­max 2 in­line four-cylin­der in­tro­duced with the re­vamped Colorado last year. It’s a po­tent unit – max­i­mum power is 147kw; peak torque is a 500Nm in the auto, 440Nm in the man­ual.

It gives the Colorado the abil­ity to tow a 3500kg braked trailer and tote a pay­load we’ve es­ti­mated at 1100kg.

The test ute was fit­ted with the smooth-shift­ing six-speed au­to­matic gear­box that can be man­u­ally over-rid­den, though even on chal­leng­ing roads we left it in Drive. The gear­box was never wrong-footed by the ter­rain and kick-down was in­stant.

Where the LTZ shone bright­est was on twist­ing and turn­ing ru­ral roads where its finely-tuned chas­sis came into its own.

Part of our reg­u­lar test route runs along the top of a ridge high above a deep val­ley where it’s bet­ter not to think of the drop.

The road jinks this way and that, be­fore plung­ing down­hill into a tight­ish left-han­der that leads to a short straight fol­lowed by a tight­en­ing, off-cam­ber right-han­der.

It’s an ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing se­quence of cor­ners and straights, and when you nail it a wave of sat­is­fac­tion spreads through your be­ing.

Through this se­quence, the LTZ was sub­lime, the beau­ti­ful­ly­tuned elec­tric-as­sist steer­ing al­low­ing ac­cu­rate car place­ment, the sup­ple ride soak­ing up the mid-cor­ner bumps, the ute feel­ing nim­ble and well bal­anced.

It felt, in fact, like a well-sorted big rear-wheel drive Aussie sedan, de­spite the high-rid­ing sus­pen­sion.

It would be a great com­pan­ion for a long road trip, en­ter­tain­ing to drive, nicely quiet and with a ride qual­ity that be­lies its work­horse un­der­pin­nings.

Here, in­deed, is a ve­hi­cle that’s a very good choice for the ur­ban driver who wants com­fort­able travel for up to five, com­bined with use­ful load-car­ry­ing abil­ity.

The 2WD Colorado LTZ doesn’t knock the Fal­con XR6 Turbo ute off the top of my au­to­mo­tive wish list, but you can’t buy a new Fal­con any­more.

So the Colorado is a nice al­ter­na­tive with its po­tent mo­tor, su­perbly-sorted chas­sis, ex­cel­lent steer­ing, and good lev­els of re­fine­ment. I’d be more than happy to run the rear-wheel drive Colorado LTZ as my daily driver..

Fac­ing page: Two-wheel drive Colorado has four-wheel drive-like high-rid­ing look.

Top : Colorado LTZ’S hand­some face was backed up with solid per­for­mance, se­cure and nim­ble han­dling.

Above: Touch screen dis­plays in­for­ma­tion, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, re­vers­ing cam­era. Colorado has Holden’s Mylink sys­tem.

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