The next-gen Colorado will talk the torque for Holden in the four-wheel drive pick-up market.
It still has a mountain to climb if it's going to knock the Toyota HiLux and Nissan Navara off the peak but the new model will give the Red Lion the tools to tackle a much bigger slice of the market.
With 470Nm on tap from the 2.8-litre turbodiesel it has bragging rights only bettered by the Navara and a look that should find a place with tradies and families alike. Now all we need is the pricing .
How much the Colorado costs is the key part of the equation — and it's one Holden won't answer until closer to the mid-year launch. Expect the 2.5-litre turbodiesel to undercut the existing 3.0-litre engine's starting price of $31,490 for the 4x2 single cab with tray and $34,490 for the same model with four-wheel drive.
Holden is pitching the new Colorado as a lifestyle range and has fitted Bluetooth, a pair of 12-volt sockets and USB/iPod connectivity for the sound system.
New, fuel-efficient turbodiesels will finally give Holden a point of difference from the Isuzu D-Max. The vehicles will still share the platform, much as Ford and Mazda do with the Ranger and BT-50, but the Colorado will be the only one with the 2.5-litre and 2.8-litre engines, fitted to two and four-wheel drive version of single, space and crew cabs.
The smaller donk is matched to a five-speed manual and is good for 110kW/350Nm. That gives it an on-paper edge over the base Triton, Nissan Navara D22 and Ford Ranger. Step up to the 2.8-litre mill and there's a 132kW/440Nm with the manual gearbox or 470Nm with the six-speed automatic.
This is not a macho, in-your-face design in the vein of the Ford Ranger and should have a broader appeal because of it. That fits, given Holden is pitching the Colorado as a lifestyle vehicle rather than a straight-up workhorse. The Holden design team worked on the styling and the slanted honeycomb grille gives the front end a bit of presence.
It's a different story at the back — short of the badge and tail lamps, fleet managers are the only people who will pick one pick-up from another. The view inside is more SUV than work ute and the switchgear is easy to operate. The biggest criticism is the pair of 12-volt power sockets are both in the front — that won't please the device-carrying passengers in the back of the crew cab models.
Holden says the Colorado will have "class-leading" safety. Topping the ANCAP rating in this segment are the five-star Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50 duo.
The existing model is a three-star vehicle, so it will be a major step up in safety and again follows Holden's push to market the Colorado as a family friendly vehicle. Standard equipment includes ESP, front and curtain airbags and brakeforce distribution for the ABS anchors.
It looks and sounds like a truck but drives like a big SUV. Holden is still finalising the suspension set-up but the evaluation test loop Carsguide undertook with the 2.8-litre models shows they're finessing a fairly competent package. Just as much work has gone in to the accessories, which range from a snorkel to a windowed canopy that secures the Colorado's role as a camping campaigner.
Add in the fact the Colorado can tow up to 3.5 tonnes and it suddenly appeals to everyone from equestrians to boaties. Four-wheel drive models use a dial to select 2WD, 4WD and low-range 4WD and it wo rks well. The six-speed automatic is the pick with clean shifts, though there was a plume of diesel exhaust smoke on downshifts when some of the vehicles were travelling uphill.
It only affected two of the seven Colorados . and they were test mules, so I'm giving Holden the benefit of the doubt until production units come on line. Corrugated gravel roads around Lake Eildon were dispatched without an interior rattle, squeak from the suspension or whiff of dust.
The build quality looks good, espec ially for a pre-production vehicle and while there's plenty of grey plastic, especially in the rear of the crew cab, that's a common trait of vehicles in this class and makes cleaning that much easier after a weekend adventure.
There's daylight between the existing Colorado and the vehicle that should arrive in showrooms mid-year. Holden still isn't going to grab the lion's share of the of the cab-chassis/pick-up market, but it should do significantly better than its fifth-placed ranking in the 4x4 segment and I'd expect the 2.5-litre engine to lift them well up on their 2011 result of ninth in the 4x2 arena .
Pitching the Colorado as a lifestyle vehicle — and ensuring it has the accessories to back that up — is another smart move.
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service intervals: 15,000km/annually (predicted)
Enigine: 2.8-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, 132kW/470Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, rear and four-wheel drive
Body: Single, extended and dual-cab, cab-chassis and pick-up
Dimensions: 5147mm (single cab chassis), 5127mm (space and crew cab chassis), 5347mm (space and crew cab pickup) (L); 1882mm (W excl. mirrors), 3096mm (WB), 1570mm/1570mm tracks front/rear
Thirst: 8.6 litres/100km (as tested)