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Holden Ute eyes five stars

Gold star: The new Holden Ute is expected to get five stars for safety in ANCAP tests.

Upgraded Holden Ute misses 3.0-litre V6 but should get a five-star safety rating

Holden logo8 Sep 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

HOLDEN’S MY10 Ute is expected to receive a maximum five-star crash safety rating following upgrades that make it the first light commercial vehicle to feature six airbags as standard across the range.

On sale from later this month, the upgraded Holden Ute will be the first Australian-made utility to feature side curtain airbags as standard, making it eligible to attract the top occupant protection ranking from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

Holden says the MY10 Ute will be tested by ANCAP within “the next few weeks”, when it is expected to join the Commodore passenger car line-up in scoring a five-star ANCAP rating.

All MY10 Utes will feature curtain airbags as standard, in addition to the twin front and front-side airbags previously fitted across the range, along with an electronic stability control (ESC) system comprising a traction control system (TCS), anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and electronic brake assist (EBA).

While Ford Australia’s ute range comes standard with twin front airbags, ABS and EBD, the Falcon’s integrated side head/thorax airbags are optional across the Blue Oval’s ute range, while electronic stability control (ESC, including TCS and EBA) is standard only from XR6 level.

13 center imageOther MY10 Holden Ute upgrades include the fitment of a passenger seatbelt warning and a steering column shroud energy absorber to help to reduce driver knee injuries.

In addition to the 5000 simulated and 80 actual crash tests done during the billion-dollar VE Commodore development program, Holden says the MY10 Ute was subjected to 50 virtual and six actual barrier tests.

While the addition of six airbags across the range brings Holden’s ute into line with its homegrown short and long-wheelbase passenger cars, the MY10 Omega Ute misses out on the new 3.0-litre direct-injection V6 and six-speed automatic transmission as fitted to the MY10 VE and WM-series models.

The upgraded direct-injection 3.6-litre petrol V6 available in premium versions of the Commodore will, however, be fitted to the SV6 Ute – in conjunction with a carryover six-speed manual or the sedan and wagon’s new six-speed automatic transmission.

Combined with GM’s Spark Ignition Direct-Injection (SIDI) system and a higher 11.3:1 compression ration, the updated 3.6 now produces 210kW at 6400rpm and 350Nm of torque from 2900rpm (up from 195kW/340Nm).

As with the entry-level Omega Ute, the Ute SS and SS V-Series are mechanically unchanged and continue to mate six-speed manual and automatic transmissions with Holden’s 6.0-litre Gen IV pushrod alloy V8. Fitted as standard with Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology, the V8 still produces 270kW/530Nm as a manual and 260kW/517Nm in automatic guise.

For the time being, the base Omega will continue to be powered by the same 3.6-litre petrol and LPG V6 as before, mated to the same four-speed automatic transmission. Performance outputs remain at 175kW/318Nm for the LPG V6 and 175kW/325Nm for the petrol V6.

New GM Holden chairman and managing director Alan Batey said the lack of the Omega sedan and wagon’s new 3.0-litre SID V6 in the Ute was a matter of priority.

“It basically came down to timing and setting priorities,” he said. “In the past we may have done everything together. (But) We’re working on it now and … (it will be available) in the not too distant future.”

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