HOT COMPETITION | UTE REVIEW – Chevy chases a new market

Chevy chases a new market as Holden jolts into gear to add a totally new focus to its ute brigade.

It took the demise of Holden local manufacturing, plus the end of the HSV specialist vehicle operation and its switch to converting left-hand-drive RAM Trucks under the American Special Vehicles banner, to hammer home the importance of Tom Walkinshaw Racing’s Fusion Limited to long-time bedfellow General Motors.

The decision by Fusion to set up American Special Vehicles and link in with independent distributor ATECO for the supply and marketing of RAM Trucks in the Australian market has obviously hit a nerve with what’s left of the Holden empire, now keen to capitalise on any potential for sales increase in any segment.

As a result of the immense success of the RAM Trucks programme that has seen sales increase by over 31 percent (YTD November 2017 VFacts), GM Holden and HSV has struck a new partnership to level the playing field.

For 2018, that new partnership results in the Chevrolet Camaro and Chevrolet Silverado entering the Australian market to line up against the Ford Mustang and RAM 2500 Laramie and join the HSV produced Holden Colorado SportsCat in what the company calls a potential for a “Showroom Blitz”.

As far as dealership branding is concerned, the existing HSV dealer network will be progressively updated to carry the Chevrolet ‘bow-tie’ logo and branding, as part of Holden’s new dealership of the future programme.

As Tim Jackson, managing director of HSV, explained: “HSV engineering involvement starts and stops with the conversion of the vehicles from left to right-hand-drive. These are iconic Chevys to the core and we’ll let the famed bow-tie speak for itself.

“SportsCat is a great example of how we can deliver improved on-road and off-road driving dynamics, and combine a great new look with improved vehicle capability and versatility. The segment is about much more than drag-strip times,” said Jackson.

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 and helmet that has adorned HSV vehicles, and represented the company, since its inception in 1987.

“The Australian market is shifting, and, like Holden, we’re shifting with it. This subtle logo change helps signify a new era of vehicle availability from HSV”, he said.

“But make no mistake, while it’s a new logo, our customers can expect the same uncompromising attitude to introducing exciting vehicles that Australian’s love to drive,” added Jackson.

Playing to HSV’s niche design and engineering capabilities, the Colorado SportsCat features a raft of styling and chassis enhancements that will position it as the most advanced sports 4×4 on the market.

To be available in two variants – SportsCat and SportsCat+ – the styling enhancements begin with radically modified exteriors featuring all-new fascias 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+ features a rugged “bonnet bulge” while, at the side of the vehicle, prominent wheel arch fender flares, smooth form on SportsCat and castellated on SportsCat+, frame bold 18” x 10” forged alloys wrapped in sports all-terrain Cooper tyres.

A hard tonneau, with load-rail provision and quick-release mechanism, combined with a unique sports-bar on SportsCat and sail plane on SportsCat+, enhance the vehicles’ sporty profile, while, at the rear, a prominent “Colorado” tailgate appliqué makes a bold statement.

The styling enhancements don’t end with the exteriors of the vehicles. The interior also comes in for a substantial makeover to deliver premium levels of comfort and style.

HSV Sports seats, the front heated, featuring uniquely designed seat foams for optimum support, are wrapped in Jasmine leather and Windsor suede, with this trim combination also adorning the instrument panel. Twin-needle red stitching provides an added highlight, also featuring on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, door trims and centre console cover. Branded floor mats complete the interior style and comfort makeover.

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 lifted by 25 mm. 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.

The chassis enhancements continue with the adoption of a Rear De-Coupling Anti-Roll Bar on the SportsCat+. Developed specifically for the vehicle by HSV’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. The de-coupling feature ensures the vehicle’s suspension settings can be optimised for off-road performance.

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.

SportsCat+ also adopts a unique braking package, further enhancing its sporting credentials. Front four-piston forged AP Racing brake callipers are complemented by 362 mm x 32 mm diameter rotors and a large (25.4 mm) diameter brake master cylinder, to deliver improved pedal feel through a reduction in pedal travel and softness.

The functionality of the 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.

SportsCat’s 18” forged alloys are shod with Cooper (Zeon LTZ Pro) Sports All-Terrain tyres. These Cooper tyres are a hybrid between a sports-truck tyre and an all-terrain tyre, and, in addition to their rugged off-road properties, were specially selected by HSV’s chassis engineers for their outstanding on-road performance characteristics, most notably on tarmac and dirt roads. The overall size of the tyres (285/60 R18), and their rolling radius, also deliver a further 20 mm increase in vehicle ride height for a total (front) ride height increase of 45 mm.

Both SportsCat models are powered by a 2.8-litre double overhead cam Duramax turbodiesel engine with 147 kW of power and up to 500 Nm 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 of 3500 kg and a maximum payload of approximately 1.0 tonne deliver impressive workhorse capabilities.

The HSV modifications to the interior include an 8” colour touchscreen, embedded satellite navigation, a premium seven-speaker audio, a rear-view camera and seven airbags.

The SportsCat range is due to start production at HSV’s new facility in Clayton, Victoria, in late January, with recommended retail pricing to be confirmed closer to model availability.

The five-model 4×4 Crew Cab line-up of the Chevrolet Silverado that HSV will offer encompasses the 2500HD WT, the 2500HD LTZ, the 2500HD LTZ “Midnight” Edition, the 2500HD LTZ “Custom Sport” Edition and the 3500HD LTZ

All five vehicles share the same inclusions such as the Duramax 6.6-litre turbodiesel V8 engine with 332 kW of power and 1234 Nm of torque, the Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission, a towing capacity of 3.5-6.1 tonnes (model dependent), a payload capacity of 1140 kg-1848 kg (model dependent), four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and automatic locking rear differential

Conversion of the Silverado range will commence at HSV’s new production facility in April 2018. The 3500HD LTZ model will be available late in Q2, 2018.

Recommended retail pricing is still to be confirmed.

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