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Holden helps to give Colorado a pull through

Bank on it: Holden’s engineers test chassis changes to the facelifted Colorado at the Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria.

‘Car-like’ facelifted Holden Colorado gets some Aussie engineering know-how

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Holden logo5 Aug 2016

GM HOLDEN engineers have worked with international General Motors colleagues to iron out wrinkles in the Colorado ute’s steering, suspension and refinement levels for the facelifted version that arrives in Australia on September 1 to take up the fight with a flock of tough rivals in the booming light truck market.

Although GM Brazil is the global “home room” for Colorado development, the Australian branch of GM has revealed it not only co-developed the revised model but also hosted the final development drive – dubbed the 100 per cent buy-off ride – by GM representatives from Brazil, Thailand, India, the United States and Europe, as well as Australia, about eight months ago.

The international contingent belted the pick-up along Australian bush tracks, back roads and highways before signing off on the production version that was developed in response to customer feedback about the current version that was launched in 2012.

The project, which follows on from Holden’s similar involvement in the development of the all-new Spark light car, is said to be indicative of Holden’ s new role in GM global engineering since Detroit killed off local Commodore development and scaled back the Holden engineering workforce after the global financial crisis.

The new-look Holden Colorado is already rolling off the Thai production line in readiness for the September launch that will be followed almost immediately by the debut of its similarly upgraded SUV sibling, formerly called Colorado 7 but now going by the international moniker of Trailblazer.

Apart from working on the revisions at the Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria, Holden engineers travelled to Brazil to help with the Colorado engineering program that has wrought major changes to the chassis and powertrain to induce what Holden claims is “car-like refinement and improve driveability” in the latest version of the Thai-built one-tonne pick-up that is sold under Chevrolet badges in other markets.

Electric power steering with a faster steering rack, digressive front and rear dampers, revised spring rates, a thicker front stabiliser bar and different tyres are among the major chassis changes.

Powertrain engineers even shifted the balance shaft on the 2.8-litre diesel engine as part of the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) improvement measures that also include a new automatic transmission torque converter, revised engine and transmission mounts and anti-noise shielding on the diesel injectors, timing cover and oil pan.

The torque converter is now what Holden calls a central pendulum absorber (CPA) type that is usually seen on premium diesel passenger cars.

Holden’s lead development engineer Amelinda Watt said the CPA converter helped to reduce engine noise and vibration by cancelling out torsional vibrations normally felt in the cabin.

“The added benefit to the CPA is the ability to apply a revised transmission calibration strategy with results in driveability and fuel economy improvements,” she said.

Ms Watt said Colorado engineers has focussed on improving refinement and drivability.

“We’ve also had the benefit of international experience, as the Colorado program was a co-development project between GM Brazil, GM Thailand and Holden – a great example of the type of engineering work Holden will be responsible for in the future.” Although the Colorado’s diesel engine has had a balance shaft modification, it retains the same level of performance, with 147kW of power and 500Nm of torque in the automatic transmission-equipped variant. The manual version’s engine is detuned to 440Nm of torque, but gets a new final drive ratio for improved drive quality, particularly while towing.

As GoAuto has reported, the new Colorado will also get new safety features such as rearview camera and driver’s knee airbag across the range.

Selected models will have forward collision alert, lane departure warning, front and rear park assist and tyre pressure monitoring.

The upgraded MyLink infotainment system gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and 7.0- or 8.0-inch colour screens with Bluetooth streaming and DAB+ radio as standard.

Prices and final specifications will be announced closer to launch.

Although the new Colorado is waiting in the wings, the superseded model achieved 1648 sales last month, making it the third best-selling ute in Australia behind the top-selling Toyota HiLux and second-placed Ford Ranger.

The light truck marking is booming in Australia this year, up about 10 per cent on 2015 levels.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.