BEHIND THE WHEEL
Editor’s thoughts and opinions on this month’s motoring happenings.
are getting smaller and being green isn’t always envied, the silence of hybrids and electric vehicles is deafening, and changing the way we commute. So it was great to get back to ‘tradition’, driving this issue’s cover story, the EC Colorado V8, a reminder that the more things change, the more we like the same old things. A V8 in a ute no longer exists in a traditional Commodore or Falcon, so it’s inspiring to see this conversion to a dual-cab ute offering something that a manufacturer may not be able to justify, but a smaller company can still prove that there are buyers out there who want more. Growing up in the 1980s was prime time for evolving technology and the mainstream introduction of turbos, fuel injection and fourcylinders capable of beating V8s. A four-cylinder turbo qualified on pole position at the Bathurst 1000 in 1984, and from a cost perspective, a four-cylinder would be all my family could afford. So it wasn’t until the late-1980s when I first drove a V8, a schoolmate’s VK Commodore with a 4.9-litre and five-speed V8. As any teenager with a lust for speed would do, I planted the throttle at the first chance, and a sweet, thunderous sound resonated through the suburbs. It felt quick, smooth and linear, output 196kw, and totally unlike the nothing-then-everything four-cylinder turbos of that era. But I’d finally driven a V8! The next memorable blip on the radar was the Jeep Cherokee SRT8, a behemoth of a car, with a 6.4-litre Hemi V8. With 344kw, a 75 percent power increase on the Commodore, there was also a big lug in both weight and economy, close to 20l/100km in suburban use. Fast forward a few years in car magazines, and we find ourselves in Alice Springs, with three V8 SUVS: a Mercedes-benz ML55, BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne twin-turbo, tasked with a simple yet risky business: find each car’s top speed for a story that would run in magazines around the world. The Benz set off first, and once out of Alice Spring’s city limits, we pass the ‘unrestricted speed’ sign and with a clear road ahead, nail the throttle: 200 passes with relative ease as the 5.4-litre V8 is singing through the gears, 220 and it’s starting to taper off, and as it passes 230km/h, we’re really pushing the aero brick wall and it just manages to squeeze out the last 10km/h before topping out at 250km/h. Into the BMW, the engine’s noticeably more eager, and though its rate of acceleration is similar, it manages to squeeze out another 10km/h until bang on 260km/h. Then the Porsche rolls out, its twin turbos huffing and puffing and blowing the other two away, flying past 230-240 and 250, and then upping the ante another 10km/h, to peak at 270km/h. So in the NASCAR tradition, we line up for a final run in convoy: BMW leading, Merc trailing, and me in the Porsche in third. We each climb to around 230km/h in convoy, then the hammers go down: within a few seconds I’m already in the slipstream of the Mercedes, and the rush of air is noticeably quieter sitting in the draft. I pull out to overtake, and pull back in behind the BMW that’s a good half a kilometre ahead. In what feels like just a few seconds, the Porsche is in the X5’s slipstream and reeling it in with a noticeable boost in speed as the speedo passes the 260 and then 270 marks, and starts getting peppered with grains of dirt being sucked up from the BMW in front. Just before the Cayenne closes in to a safe overtaking point, the digital speed flashes up 280km/h as it pulls out to overtake and gets squashed back into form by aerodynamics down to ‘just’ 270km/h. After 15 minutes of this ‘research’, we need to stop, simply because we’re running out of fuel so quickly, the SUVS are all under half a tank of 95 octane already; so we turn around and return to Alice Springs, job done, no animals harmed – except dinosaurs, with our fuel use as high as 48l/100km. It was a great lesson that turbos are fantastic, V8s are great, but combine the two and it’s a force that’s hard to beat. When the offer to see and drive the supercharged V8 Colorado was offered for this month’s feature, we scooped up the timing gear and set out to see what a 2018 ultimate performance ute is about, and when the numbers rolled off, we were hugely impressed not just by its performance, but that it’s such a complete all-rounder with a factory standard look, factory driveability, reliability and that all-important 2018 factor: economy. Relatively, at least… Dean Evans – firstname.lastname@example.org