HSV’S 4X4 FUTURE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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