ROAD TEST: HSV’s latest dual-cab ute weapon

Evolution ensures the best of the breed stays alive, which explains why HSV is still in business.

The company has transformed from a Commodore-driven aftermarket performance specialist into a boutique supplier of vehicles enhanced in some way to suit local conditions.

They've picked their marks with all the care required of a company that isn't big enough to get it wrong and the Chevy Silverado, Chevy Camaro and HSV SportsCat are all meeting targets.

Of the trio, the SportsCat is initially the most jarring.

This is an HSV-badged product - not a complicated but unbranded drive-conversion - that packs the handling and braking upgrades that longstanding buyers expect from HSV but maintains the donor Holden Colorado's 147kW/500Nm outputs from the 2.8-litre turbo diesel.

Even then, you don't get those 500Nm unless you spend an extra $2200 on the six-speed auto (the manual is rated at 440Nm), meaning the starting prices are effectively $64,690 for the SportsCat V and $68,990 for the SV. Buyers of the SportsCat V can choose to save $2500 by deleting the standard hard tonneau cover and sports bar.

Only auto versions of the HSV SportsCat Series 2 get the more powerful engine.
Only auto versions of the HSV SportsCat Series 2 get the more powerful engine.

Buy the SV. Its AP brakes and rear swaybar that automatically disengages in 4WD low make it worth the extra - HSV will charge you more than $5K to fit them as stand-alone accessories.

The SportsCat starts out as a ZL1 Colorado with a sticker price of $54,990. HSV then stiffens the suspension bracing, increases the suspension rates and, in combination with a set of 18-inch forged alloy wheels shod with Cooper all-terrain tyres, raises the front of the vehicle by 45mm to counter the Colorado's unladen nose-down look.

Those 285mm-wide tyres also contribute to widening the SportsCat's track by 30mm over the donor car. The improved response was apparent on Holden's ride and handling track in Lang Lang, as was the vastly better feel from the brake pedal with the larger master brake cylinder.

The SV's AP Racing brakes were demonstrably the best on and off the tarmac.

HSV has tweaked the stability control software to be less intrusive than in the standard vehicle.

HSV has vastly improved the Colorado’s seats.
HSV has vastly improved the Colorado’s seats.

Key upgrades for the Series 2 include a gloss black finish to the front, endowing it with a more purposeful stance against the likes of the Ford Ranger Wildtrack and Toyota Hilux Rogue it will naturally compete with.

The seats - and HSV's expertise - have been bolstered, thanks to interior fit-out specialists who teamed HSV's Commodore padding with the basic Colorado seat frame.

The decals are bigger and bolder inside and out in response to customer feedback. People who buy HSVs want the world to know what they drive.

In the HSV SportsCat, newcomers to the brand won't be disappointed. Traditionalists may yearn for a power boost but this represents a big enough driving improvement over the Colorado to justify the badge.

And for buyers who have to have more, HSV sister company Walkinshaw Performance is happy to help.

HSV SportsCat Series 2 vitals

Price: $62,490 (S); $66,790 (SV)

Warranty/servicing: 5 years, unlimited km/$2135 for 5 years/60,000km

Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 147kW/500Nm

Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags

Thirst: 8.7L/100km (auto)

Spare: Full-size

Towing: 3500kg


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