HSV gives Colorado SportsCat pick-up a light update with welcome styling changes

August 9, 2019


HSV’S reinvention in the post-Commodore era first began with the introduction of the Holden Colorado-based SportsCat pick-up, which first arrived in local showrooms in early 2018 to take on the likes of the Toyota HiLux Rugged X and Ford Ranger Raptor.

Fast-forward to present day, and the local car-maker has given its SportsCat range its first update, with the Series II version ushering some minor updates based around styling enhancements.

HSV hopes to sell around 750 to 1000 examples of the SportsCat this year, so can the updates to the diesel-powered off-roader help the company achieve its goal?


Drive impressions

The departure from HSV’s old business model of enhancing V8-powered Commodores and Caprices to new performance heights is in stark contrast to the four-cylinder, diesel-powered, ladder-frame, 4×4-capable SportsCat.

Less a straight-line performance beast and more an enhanced version of a vehicle whose segment has become one of the most popular in the country.

The SportsCat has some clear differences over the Colorado Z71 donor vehicle with both mechanical and styling upgrades, beginning with the revised front fascia and upgraded front suspension. Front-end styling now features a gloss-black grille, fascia and lower bumper inserts – replacing the old grey design – which help to give the SportsCat a more menacing and aggressive look that complements the rest of its enhanced body kit.

However, the SportsCat clearly stands out from the Colorado with its tougher stance, thanks to a revised suspension system that sees spring height increased by 25mm, which combines with the wheel and tyre package to increase front-end lift by 45mm. The heightened suspension levels out the car in profile and help give it a much more intimidating on-road stance, which combined with the 10-inch-wide all-terrain tyres help it look particularly menacing for a ute without any aftermarket changes.

Extra ride height is helped by the newly designed 18-inch matte-black alloy wheels and specifically developed Cooper all-terrain tyres, which feature one of the most aggressive tread patterns of any ute straight out of the showroom, with the possible exception of the Ranger Raptor’s BF Goodrich KO2s. Despite having a fairly aggressive tread, there is not a noticeably greater level of road noise, also thanks to increased sound insulation over the Colorado that helps keep the SportsCat’s cabin a relatively serene place, some diesel rumble notwithstanding.

The SportsCat’s cabin carries over largely unchanged from the Colorado with a few notable exceptions starting with the newly introduced HSV seats, which feature bolstered sides and bottoms that hark back to its Commodore days of old. While many pick-ups feature flat, uncomfortable pews, the SportsCat features excellent, supportive seats with Alcantara and leather trim, aiding comfort on long trips. A unique sports steering wheel and Alcantara trim on the dashboard also feature, but aside from those features, the SportsCat’s cabin is largely the same as the Colorado, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and a disappointing amount of cabin plastics on the trim and switchgear.

During our time with the SportsCat we were able to test its dynamic abilities over a series of drive activities to see how HSV engineers have managed to provide a more enjoyable driving experience in a two-tonne-plus 4×4 pick-up. A number of dynamic changes have been made, including HSV sports suspension, a revised spring, damper and ESC tune; a widened wheel track and a rear de-coupling anti-roll bar for off-roading, and AP racing brakes for SV variants.

The suspension and damping tune help to keep the SportsCat flatter around corners and minimises pitch and body roll when changing direction, and the stiffer springs give the car a sportier feel than a regular ute does. The ESC tune also allows for a slightly less aggressive stability control calibration when in two-wheel drive, which helps the SportsCat get a little tail-happy, which should be able to put a smile on the face of customers. One obvious downside of the new ride settings is the stiffer springs lead to a more sensitive on-road driving experience, that unfortunately sacrifices some ride comfort. The AP Racing brakes fitted to the SV and optionally available on the V help improve the stopping power of the SportsCat, with some brake tests showing how potent the four-pot grabbers with 362mm front rotors really are.

A brief sojourn off-road saw the SportsCat comfortably handle the challenges thrown at it, with its extra ride height and all-terrain tyres helping it through all obstacles, aided by the helical limited-slip differential on the rear axle. As mentioned, the SportsCat does not feature any mechanical enhancements over the Colorado, carrying over the same 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that produces 147kW and either 440Nm or 500Nm, depending if you’ve opted for the six-speed manual or automatic transmission, respectively.

Its 500Nm torque figure is nevertheless still one of the best in the segment for a four-cylinder diesel, and with the exception of some turbo lag, the SportsCat is able to get up to speed with ease and short bursts of power are available where required. Still, for an HSV, we would have liked to have seen some sort of power bump from the 2.8-litre mill, even if it is something as small as an ECU remap, performance exhaust or upgraded intercooler. Those seeking more power can do so through Walkinshaw Performance who offer an ECU tune that increases power and torque by around 20 per cent and can be offered through HSV showrooms.

HSV has not reinvented the wheel with the SportCat,but rather added some attractive enhancements onto the Colorado that will appeal to those looking to stand out more from the crowd. Being $5000-$10,000 more expensive than the Colorado Z71, it will also be more attainable for many buyers. The SportsCat is not the vehicle that will return HSV to its petrol V8-powered heyday, however it is a car that can help the brand re-establish itself in the post-Commodore automotive landscape, and will help to shape the future direction of the niche Aussie manufacturer.