DRIVE: HSV COLORADO SPORTSCAT+
A SPORTSCAT NOW PROWLS THE COUNTRYSIDE, AFTER HOLDEN SPECIAL VEHICLES LET LOOSE ON THE HUMBLE COLORADO.
HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) was founded in 1987 as a joint venture between Holden and Scottish racing driver and race-team owner, the late Tom Walkinshaw. Better known for its expertise in tweaking Commodore V8s, HSV has now turned its hand to Holden’s bestseller, the Colorado ute.
You might think that being an HSV the Sportscat would run a tuned engine, but the 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel, essentially a VM Motori design, is stock and claims an unchanged 147kw and 500Nm. Still, these are healthy numbers among the current crop of dual-cab utes, with the Colorado’s 500Nm bettered only by the Volkswagen Amarok V6’s 550Nm. The Colorado’s two gearboxes – a sixspeed manual and a six-speed automatic – are also unchanged.
HSV may have left the powertrain alone, but engineers seriously tinkered with the chassis to improve the Colorado both on and off the road. Starting with a Colorado Z71 as the donor car, the upgrades start with 18x10-inch alloys with a 15mm off-set (for a 30mm wider track) carrying Cooper Zeon LTZ Pro 285/60 all-terrains, which give a 20mm increase in ride height over the stock 265/60R18s.
New and stiffer front springs then provide an additional 25mm of lift, obviously for more clearance but to bring a more neutral stance compared to the nose-down/bum-up look of a standard Colorado. The rear springs remain stock,
while MTV dampers are fitted all ’round.
To cope with the inevitable extra load passed back to the chassis via the bigger and heavier wheel and tyre package and the 30mm wider track, HSV engineers have braced the spring/damper strut top mounts. The standard pressed-steel top mounts for the front struts are welded to the chassis rails behind the struts but are effectively open at the front. What HSV has done is brace the front of the strut top mount back to the chassis via a steel tube looped up and around the strut, which helps eliminate chassis flex in this critical area and thus achieve better suspension control.
From there the upgrades are model specific. The Sportscat+ adds 362mm front brake rotors, in place of the standard 300mm rotors, and four-spot AP Racing calipers. The Sportscat+ gets a rear swaybar that automatically decouples when low-range is engaged. As standard, the Colorado, like most dualcabs, doesn’t have a swaybar. Sportscat+ buyers can also option high-performance Supashock dampers complete with gascharged remote reservoirs, as fitted to our Sportscat+.
How does it all work? Well, in two words, very nicely. Generally when you lift a vehicle and add taller off-roadoriented tyres the on-road dynamics go backwards, but not here; the Sportscat+ feels planted and confident on the road, and the faster you drive it the better it feels. The high-speed steering and front suspension control on bumpy roads, even corrugated dirt, is particularly impressive. HSV has also retuned the electronic stability control, and that it’s not intrusive at all on loose dirt is proof it works.
The up-spec front brake package on