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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

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