Last month we broke the news of HSV’s move into the sport ute sec­tor. This month we have more de­tail on the Coloradobased Sport­sCat mod­els and check out the Aussie tun­ing icon’s other plans.


Play­ing to HSV’s niche de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the new Colorado Sport­sCat fea­tures a raft of styling and chas­sis en­hance­ments aimed at po­si­tion­ing it as the most ad­vanced sports 4x4 ute on the mar­ket. Per­haps the most sur­pris­ing thing – given HSV’s sto­ried past with Com­modore and the var­i­ous Holden and Chevro­let V8s shoe­horned in and un­graded year-on-year – is that the en­gine re­mains un­touched. But we will get back to that. To be avail­able in two vari­ants – Sport­sCat and Sport­sCat+ – the styling en­hance­ments be­gin with all-new noses and grilles that, with the ad­di­tion of LED fog lamps and func­tional tow hooks, com­bine to de­liver two dis­tinc­tive and sporty front-end ap­pear­ances. The Sport­sCat+ also gets a bon­net bulge and casste­lated ( a word mean­ing hav­ing a pro­file like the bat­tle­ments of a cas­tle!) fen­der flares while both it and the base Sport­sCat both get light­weight forged 18 inch x 10 inch al­loys and Cooper ( Zeon LTZ Pro) Sports All-Ter­rain tyres. Both mod­els also get hard tray cov­ers, with load-rail pro­vi­sion and quick-re­lease mech­a­nism, com­bined with a unique sports-bar on the Sport­sCat and sail plane on Sport­sCat+. In­side, SV Sports seats, the front pair heated, fea­ture unique seat foams for op­ti­mum sup­port, and are wrapped in Jasmine leather and Wind­sor suede, a trim combo repli­cated – with the ad­di­tion of twin­nee­dle red stitch­ing – on the dash­board, cen­tre con­sole and door cards.

Sports sus­pen­sion

It’s in the chas­sis that the re­ally sig­nif­i­cant dy­namic changes have been made. Both Sport­sCat mod­els fea­ture HSV Sports Sus­pen­sion with the front spring rate stiff­ened to 110 New­tons/ mm. Its MTV dampers have been tuned around the re­vised spring rate, with both mod­i­fi­ca­tions con­tribut­ing to a more per­for­mance-based han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tic. In ad­di­tion to the in­creased spring rate, front ride height has been lif ted by 25mm. This mod­i­fi­ca­tion fur­ther im­proves the approach an­gle of the ve­hi­cle, in­creases ground clear­ance to the body and re­duces the ve­hi­cle’s over­all rake, de­liv­er­ing a more nat­u­ral on-road stance. HSV has also adopted a trick de-cou­pling rear anti-roll bar on the Sport­sCat+. De­vel­oped specif­i­cally for the ve­hi­cle by the com­pany’s chas­sis en­gi­neers, the de-cou­pling rear sway bar im­proves the higher speed road driv­ing per­for­mance of the ve­hi­cle by con­trol­ling rear roll, and thereby im­prov­ing over­all ve­hi­cle bal­ance and turn-in tran­sient re­sponse. Con­versely, when driven off-road, the de-cou­pling fea­ture en­sures the ve­hi­cle’s sus­pen­sion set­tings can be op­ti­mised for max­i­mum rear wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion. Su­paShock sus­pen­sion, as in­tro­duced to the Aus­tralian mar­ket on HSV’s iconic GTSR W1, will also be avail­able as a fac­tory-fit­ted op­tion on the Sport­sCat+, tak­ing the ve­hi­cle’s sus­pen­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties to another level yet again.

Brake up­grade

En­hanced brake hard­ware is al­ways been a key part of HSV’s up­grade strat­egy and so it is with the Sport­sCat+. Up front are a pair of larger di­am­e­ter ( 362 x 32mm) ro­tors and four-pis­ton forged AP Rac­ing brake calipers backed up by a large ( 25.4mm) di­am­e­ter brake master cylin­der, to de­liver im­proved

pedal feel through a re­duc­tion in pedal travel and soft­ness. The func­tion­al­ity of the ve­hi­cle’s Trac­tion Con­trol Sys­tem has also been ad­justed to al­low for less ag­gres­sive in­ter­ven­tions, par­tic­u­larly on cor­ner exit. These ad­just­ments also help de­liver a more per­for­mance-based ve­hi­cle re­sponse. The Cooper tyres fit­ted to both Sport­sCat mod­els are a hy­brid be­tween a sport­struck tyre and an all-ter­rain tyre and, in ad­di­tion to their off-road cre­den­tials, were spe­cially se­lected by HSV’s chas­sis en­gi­neers for their per­for­mance char­ac­ter­is­tics on both tar­mac and dirt roads. The over­all size of the tyres ( 285/ 60 R18), and their rolling ra­dius, also de­liv­ers a fur­ther 20mm in­crease in ve­hi­cle ride height for a to­tal ( front) ride height in­crease of 45mm.

Ag­gres­sive tar­gets

In com­ment­ing on the en­gi­neer­ing en­hance­ments, HSV’s En­gi­neer­ing Di­rec­tor, Joel Stod­dart, told NZ4WD; “We set our­selves some pretty ag­gres­sive tar­gets head­ing into the Sport­sCat pro­gram. We wanted to set the bench­mark for on-road per­for­mance with­out com­pro­mis­ing the ve­hi­cle’s off-road ca­pa­bil­i­ties. In fact, we’ve man­aged to im­prove the ve­hi­cle’s off-road per­for­mance, so I’m con­fi­dent the team has de­liv­ered on both counts.” In ad­di­tion to the styling and en­gi­neer­ing en­hance­ments de­vel­oped by HSV on the new Sport­sCat range, the ve­hi­cle also car­ries over a raft of core ve­hi­cle fea­tures that help com­plete the premium of­fer­ing. Per­for­mance-wise both Sport­sCat mod­els run un­opened 2.8 litre DOHC/16valve Du­ra­max Turbo Diesel en­gines pro­duc­ing 147kW of power and up to 500Nm of torque when spec­i­fied with the op­tional six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion with Ac­tive Select. A six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion is stan­dard fare. Braked tow­ing ca­pac­ity re­mains at 3,500kg as does the rated pay­load of ap­prox­i­mately 1000kgs. So what do YOU reckon? Here at NZ4WD we reckon the HSV move is a mas­ter­stroke, the mar­ket it­self al­ready well down the road of re­plac­ing big Aussie four-doors with tur­bod­iesel double cab utes.

Next step

The next step, ob­vi­ously is spec­c­ing up an en­gine, some­thing which will nat­u­rally fol­low once race fans get to see turbo-diesel DC utes rac­ing on the Vir­gin Aus­tralian Su­per­cars Cham­pi­onship un­der­card this year. By tack­ling the on-road ride and han­dling side of things first though, HSV has cor­rectly iden­ti­fied where its competitive ad­van­tage was ac­tu­ally needed first. As com­pany Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Tim Jack­son said at the of­fi­cial launch of the two new Sport­sCat mod­els; “Most 4x4s pick-ups are in­her­ently ca­pa­ble off-road – es­sen­tially, it’s a cat­e­gory ex­pec­ta­tion, and we’ll cer­tainly be amongst the best-in-class in this re­gard, es­pe­cially with our added ride height and Cooper tyre pack­age. “What we also wanted to do with the Sport­sCat pro­gramme was dial up the ve­hi­cle’s on-road char­ac­ter­is­tics, given that’s where most peo­ple tend to spend the bulk of their time driv­ing their ve­hi­cle. “With our unique sus­pen­sion pack­ages and AP Rac­ing brakes com­bined with the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior com­fort and styling en­hance­ments we’ve made, we’re con­fi­dent we’ve de­vel­oped Aus­tralia’s most stylish and ad­vanced sports 4x4.”

New be­gin­ning

The new partnership be­tween Holden and HSV marks a piv­otal mo­ment in the lat­ter’s 30-year his­tory in Aus­tralia and be­gins an ex­cit­ing chap­ter in bring­ing a whole new breed of ve­hi­cles to cus­tomers. The fo­cus of the new agree­ment is to utilise HSV’s famed de­sign, en­gi­neer­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and mar­ket­ing skills across a broader range of prod­uct, giv­ing cus­tomers ac­cess to some of the very best ve­hi­cles from across the GM em­pire. As Tim Jack­son said at the of­fi­cial launch; “This marks a whole new era for HSV and Holden and I hope our cus­tomers are as ex­cited as we are. HSV is mov­ing be­yond sim­ply ‘ hot­ting up’ ex­ist­ing mod­els, and cus­tomers will see two prod­uct streams from HSV over the next few years. This is ‘Game-On’ in a very big way.” Holden’s Chair­man and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Mark Bern­hard, said the new agree­ment was a piv­otal step for both com­pa­nies. “For a number of years, we’ve been talk­ing about bring­ing cus­tomers the best ve­hi­cles from around the GM world, and to­day we’re proud to an­nounce the next step in that strat­egy”. Tim Jack­son also said that it was im­por­tant that HSV con­tin­ues to play a key role in en­hanc­ing Holden’s im­age in the mar­ket place, and that the Sport­sCat project was a good ex­am­ple. “Some of our tra­di­tional cus­tomers will ex­pect more power, and if the op­por­tu­ni­ties present them­selves, we will look to de­velop pow­er­train en­hance­ments where it makes sense. How­ever, we see an op­por­tu­nity to ap­peal to cus­tomers by in­vest­ing in en­hanced ve­hi­cle spec­i­fi­ca­tion and ca­pa­bil­ity that re­ally de­liv­ers a great driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and a competitive ad­van­tage in var­i­ous seg­ments. “Sport­sCat is a great ex­am­ple of how we can de­liver im­proved on-road and of­froad driv­ing dy­nam­ics, and com­bine a great new look with im­proved ve­hi­cle ca­pa­bil­ity and ver­sa­til­ity. The seg­ment is about much more than dragstrip times,” said Jack­son. The sec­ond stream of prod­uct to be of­fered by HSV will be the in­tro­duc­tion of world­class ve­hi­cles from across the GM global range that would not have oth­er­wise been avail­able through Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Lion’s share

HSV also re­vealed its in­ten­tion to in­tro­duce a fresh­ened logo con­cur­rent with the in­tro­duc­tion of its 2018 range. The new vis­ual iden­tity of­fers a more con­tem­po­rary in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the ‘ Lion & Hel­met’ that has adorned HSV ve­hi­cles, and rep­re­sented the com­pany, since its in­cep­tion in 1987. The Sport­sCat range was due to start pro­duc­tion at HSV’s new fa­cil­ity in Clay­ton, Vic­to­ria, in late Jan­uary this year, with NZ RRPs to be con­firmed closer to model avail­abil­ity.

Key vis­ual dif­fer­ence is in rear tray and bar.

Base model Sport­sCat gets chas­sis, wheel/tyre and in­te­rior up­grades.

Full range of ‘life­style’ ac­ces­sories fit both mod­els.

Sport­sCat+ in pro­file

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