STEVE COLQUHOUN June 20, 2012
Carrying heavy loads is what workhorse utes are all about and Holden’s revised entrant into one of Australia’s most hotly contested segments certainly has its work cut out.
Already ceding a massive head start to many of its rivals, the reinvigorated Colorado has been earmarked to shoulder a ‘‘massive’’ share of the company’s sales burden this year, says the
executive director of sales and marketing, John Elsworth.
Holden has been fighting in the LCV market – light commercial vehicles, predominantly for workhorse style utes – with one hand tied behind its back for a long time. The Colorado’s aged predecessor has been looking decidedly second-hand next to a slew of fresher, more sophisticated metal in the segment, plus the all conquering Toyota HiLux.
That would be the same HiLux that – in spite of advancing age and less than stellar safety – beat all comers to post Australia’s top sales figure for May, and by a fair margin.
That had a lot to do with pent up demand intersecting with the reconnection of supply from Thailand following last year’s floods. Even so, Holden sees plenty of opportunity to make a
name for itself as a category titan, rather than an also-ran.
So much so, it is believed to have signed off on an advertising budget totalling about $17 million to underpin the work that has gone into Colorado, a global platform that will be rolled out to more than 60 countries at a development cost of more than $2 billion.
Elsworth concedes that Holden needs the Colorado to succeed in the market. ‘‘Colorado plays a vital role in our portfolio; it’s traditionally one of our best-selling models and extremely important to our brand so this launch couldn’t come quick enough.’’
Output at the General Motors plant in Rayong, Thailand, was affected by last year’s devastating flooding, pushing back the Colorado’s launch several months.
The company has 1500 firm orders on its books and is already shipping models to dealers in anticipation of significant interest it expects to generate from the advertising campaign.
Elsworth knows that catching the HiLux is a tall order given the significant fleet, government and mining orders that Toyota services. Instead, he has set Holden’s sights on private and small-business buyers, self-employed tradesmen who use this type of ute as a working tool during the week and as a family hauler at the weekend.
The Colorado kicks off with the most expensive base-model price of its major rivals, from$26,990 (plus on-road and dealer costs) for its DX single-cab two-wheel-drive model with a cab-chassis body style.
The most expensive Colorado, an LTZ four-wheel-drive crew-cab pick-up, is pricier than a range topping HiLux or Mazda BT-50 at $51,990 but cheaper than the equivalent Ford Ranger,
Volkswagen Amarok or Nissan Navara.
However, specification levels vary significantly between marques at this end of the range. Safety has become a genuine talking point in this style of vehicle, with protection levels ramped up by recent arrivals to the segment.
All Colorado models get both front airbags and full-length curtain airbags that protect both front and rear passengers’ heads, but side airbags that protect the chest and abdomen aren’t available at all, unlike in some competitors. Rear parking sensors for the 5.3-metre-long utility are an option on all models barring cab chassis variants.
Stability control is standard across the range but the Colorado has not yet been independently crash tested.
The Colorado will launch without a petrol engine for the first time, instead featuring a choice of two new turbo diesel engines. A 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit is only available on the low-spec DX and puts out 110kW and 350Nm in return for fuel use ranging from 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres (2WD) to 8.1L/100km (4WD) and a three tonne towing capacity.
The 2.8-litre four-cylinder engine that will power most models in the range (LX, LT and LTZ) makes 132kW and 440Nm when paired with a five-speed manual, or 470Nm with the optional six-speed auto ($2000). Official fuel use ranges between 7.8L/100km and 9.3L/100km, depending on the model.
Towing capacity is beefed up to a class-leading 3.5 tonnes. Every model will accept a one tonne payload and some models will carry up to 1.4 tonnes.
Buyers can choose from four specification levels (DX, LX, LT, LTZ), three cab styles (single, space and crew cabs), two chassis styles (cab chassis or pick-up), 2WD or 4WD drivelines, plus the two engines and transmissions.
An accessories catalogue includes 38 items, including a snorkel kit, foglights, cargo liner, towbar, bullbar, nudge bar, hard tonneau cover, floor mats and a bonnet protector.
Holden says more than 65 per cent of the accessories are unique to Australia and were developed here by Holden’s engineers. Standard equipment across the range includes airconditioning, power windows, Bluetooth connectivity, USB input with iPod compatibility and an alarm.
The LX model adds cruise control, steering-wheel controls, powered side mirrors, six-speaker audio and bucket seats. The LT model adds 16-inch alloy wheels and foglights, while the
range-topping LTZ adds 17-inch alloys, projector headlights, LED tail lights, alloy sports bar, climate control airconditioning, eight speaker audio, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, and interior and exterior chrome highlights.
On sale: Now.
Pricing: 26 model range starts from $26,990 plus on-road and dealer costs ranging up to $51,990.
Engines: 2.5-litre turbo-diesel 4-cyl; 110kW/350Nm; 5-sp man or 6-sp auto; 7.9-8.1L/100km; 2WD. 2.8-litre turbo-diesel 4-cyl; 132kW/440Nm with 5-sp man, 470Nm with 6-sp auto;
7.8-9.3L/100km; 2WD or 4WD.
What's new: New body. Stability control and curtain airbags across the range; new range of turbo diesel engines; Bluetooth phone connection with wireless audio streaming; 3.5-tonne
towing capacity on some models.
The competitors: Toyota HiLux, Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok, Isuzu D-Max.