4X4 Reviews Vehicle Reviews

What makes the HSV SportsCat special?

And is it any good? We take one off-road to find out.

Sticker-pack 4WDs. I’ve written about them before, and I’ll probably write about them again. I don’t like them in the slightest. While they might give a little bump to sales figures and throw in a little value for the buyer, they don’t do anything to actually improve the practicality or functionality of the vehicle.

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Praise the lord almighty, the HSV SportsCat is more than just another sticker-pack 4X4 ute. While it might not have such radical changes as the Ranger Raptor, it does have some good stuff happening. Let’s have a closer look.

Suspension

Firstly, the spring rate has changed at the front, firming things up noticeably on-road and giving a bit more off-road ground clearance (25mm). Taller tyres also give you more all-round off-road clearance, good for your off-road goolies. The SportsCat has a ground clearance listed at 251mm, which is a 36mm difference over the normal Colorado.

The different suspension setup makes a big difference. Almost all of the vagueness of steering is gone, with the SportsCat feeling crispier and sportier on the bitumen. Off-road handling does become a lot firmer as well along corrugations and uneven dirt, but that can be softened off mostly through tyre pressures (which you should be doing anyway!).

You’ve still got a pretty stout 900kg of payload, which is nice for future modifications and trips
Wheels and tyres

It’s always great to see a factory 4X4 fitted up with some decent rubber. HSV worked with Cooper Tires to use their Zeon rubber, which is something of an all-terrain with good on-road characteristics. It’s a 285/60 R18, which works out to be around 32-inch in overall diameter. They are a noticeably wider tyre as well, which along with being a taller tyre, will help increase your contact patch off-road when you air down.

Decent quality tyres go a long way to making a 4X4 better off-road
The look

It’s a subtle change at the front end, which I reckon washes over quite nicely. There isn’t a 4X4 on the planet that won’t look better with some extra tyres and wheel offset, but the new-look snout does give the SportsCat a different overall look to the Colorado. You’ll notice a couple of look-at-me red recovery points poking out of the front end, as well. They are thankfully rated for off-road use, with a 3000kg limit on each point.

285/60 R18 Cooper Zeons on forged alloys, a nice combination

What’s the same?

Driveline

The engine is the VM Motori-sourced 2.8-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel under the bonnet, which is identical to every other Colorado. That means there is 147kW @ 3600rpm and 500Nm @ 2000rpm when running through the automatic gearbox. Opt for the manual, and that drops to 440Nm. Keep in mind the on-road performance is similar, a lot of those newton-metres get soaked up in the operation of the less efficient automatic gearbox.

It’s a great performance package overall. The torque comes on strongly and smoothly, giving you a great kick off the mark as well as a good surge of torque all the way up to highway speeds. The LSD rear end, along with being good off-road, does pay solid dividends on-road as well: all of that torque doesn’t get wasted in wheelspin, and you can take off very smartly.

Interior

The Colorado is quite a nice place to be inside, with quality-feeling touch points and enough technology to keep your average punter quite happy. The infotainment unit is good and effective, and the suede/leather seats are pretty comfortable. While it isn’t as flash as a Wildtrak, or quality as an Amarok Ultimate, or as classy as an X-Class, there is little room for complaint inside the Colorado and SportsCat.

LSD/Traction Control

HSV have also recalibrated the traction control system to better deal with the bigger rubber it’s sporting. It’s hard to really gauge how good the traction control is off-road compared to other vehicles, because a fairly tight LSD in the bum does make the SportsCat a bit of a point-and-shoot affair. It’s definitely not as sharp as the likes of a HiLux or Amarok, but it’s not too shabby either.

Traction control was a bit jerky and slow to react when it was under duress, but the rear LSD did a great job of continually pushing up a steep and rutted climb
Verdict

It’s good news, there is lots to like about the SportsCat. I was initially worried it was a ute that had thrown away off-road nous in it’s yearning attempt to be a pseudo sports car, but that’s not the case.

The suspension changes, along with bigger, wider and better rubber, means the SportsCat is a better off-road operator compared to your average Colorado. And it’s nicer on-road, to boot.

Where a Colorado Z71 has a sharp-ish $57,190 price tag, the HSV SportsCat bumps that up to $62,990. Almost $6000 is a significant amount of money, which could net you some nice stuff from the aftermarket industry. Good suspension, wheels and tyres would probably cost a similar amount. But what you’re not getting in that value equation is the look (front end and flares), and that boils down to personal opinion.

Dynamically, the SportsCat is an improvement over the Colorado

If you want to up the ante some more, then look at the SportsCat+. For $68,990, you’re looking at bigger brakes, a disconnecting rear sway bar for more flex, and optional Supashock linear style remote-reservoir dampers.

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