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New models - Holden - One-Tonner

First drive: One Tonner comes of age

Load-lugger: new V6 and six-speed manual transform Holden's VZ One Tonner cab-chassis ute.

Holden's born-again One Tonner heads upmarket with a new V6 and six-slot manual

2 Sep 2004

IT'S little over a year since Holden revived the classic One Tonner nameplate, so a raft of changes for the facelifted VZ version can only increase the solid following the first Holden one-tonne ute in almost 20 years has already attracted.

Leading the VZ One Tonner highlights is Holden’s all-new Alloytec V6 mated to a new six-speed manual transmission – the first time One Tonner has been available in a V6/manual configuration, though it won’t be available until November – along with significant safety, equipment, chassis and cosmetic upgrades.

Starting at the heart, One Tonner misses out on the full-house Alloytec 190 engine (featuring, of course, 190kW and 340Nm peak power and torque outputs) as featured in VZ Commodore SV6, Calais, Statesman and Caprice sedan models.

Like VZ Crewman, however, the updated One Tonner does offer a specifically tuned version of the entry level 175kW/320Nm Alloytec V6 found in VZ Executive, Acclaim and Berlina sedans and wagons, with peak torque delivered 400rpm lower than in those models, at 2400rpm, thanks to a higher back pressure exhaust.

That's 14 per cent more power and five per cent more torque than the defunct 152kW/305Nm 3.8-litre pushrod Ecotec V6.

An all-alloy 24-valve DOHC design, the 60-degree V6 employs a sand-cast alloy block, forged steel crankshaft, twin knock sensors, stainless steel exhaust, roller finger valve followers, 32-bit engine management system, coil-on-plug ignition, an electronic throttle and variable inlet valve timing.

The new 3.565-litre engine, with oversquare 94 x 85.6mm bore and stroke dimensions, runs a relatively high 10.2:1 compression ratio and continues with the 15,000km regular service intervals introduced with VY Commodore’s 3.8 Ecotec V6, but it misses out on the variable exhaust valve timing and two-stage inlet manifold of the premium Alloytec 190.

Similarly, all Commodore-based utes miss out on selected VZ Commodores’ new five-speed automatic transmission featuring Active Select steering wheel-mounted gearshift buttons.

Instead, as with base model VZ Commodores, there's a comprehensively upgraded version of Commodore’s current GM four-speed auto, which features a new torque converter, smarter control module and new calibration to improve shift-to-shift variation.

But the big transmission news for One Tonner is the standard fitment of a brand-new D173 Aisin six-speed manual.

Not only is it the first time One Tonner V6 has been available with a manual, but it's also the first time the Japanese-built gearbox has been employed in a production vehicle anywhere in the world.

When it comes to the 5.7-litre Gen III-powered One Tonner (badged as an S V8 rather than SS and lacking the SS sedan and ute and Crewman’s fender vents), the VZ upgrade brings a 10kW peak power increase to 235kW at 5600rpm, while torque remains at 460Nm at 4000rpm. That’s the same output as VZ Crewman SS, but down on the 250kW/470Nm V8 found in VZ Caprice and SS models due to exhaust packaging limitations.

13 center image While the optional One Tonner S V8 continues with the six-speed Tremec manual, auto versions receive a new torque converter with 13 times greater electronic smarts, plus a new hydraulic controller aimed at delivering smoother, less shocking shifts.

Of course, the updated VZ cosmetic package also applies to One Tonner and includes a new, twin-spear bonnet, more aggressive front bumper, more compact headlights sans the "Bull’s eye" parking lights of the VY-based version and a larger Holden Lion logo in the middle of a larger single-bar grille.

Reflecting the VZ Commodores sedan, wagon and ute facelift, One Tonner’s look has been lifted a notch or two at base level, with the entry level V6 scoring a body-coloured front skirt and side rocker mouldings, although the baser’s 15 x 7.0-inch steel wheels remain.

While base VZ One Tonners also get silver chrome bezelled headlights and a new Gable cloth interior trim, S variants get new sports cloth fabric trim designs. New paint colours are available, including Odyssey for all One Tonners and Impulse for S variants.

Steering tweaks across the VZ Commodore range include a different front anti-roll bar pickup point (now ball-jointed, not rubber bushed) which reduces both its mass and bar crank length by 40mm to "increase the range of mild understeer at low to mid lateral G-forces".

While all VZ One Tonners score a new brake master-cylinder and booster claimed to achieve ABS-invoking pressure in half the time and to reduce stopping distances by four per cent, only ABS-equipped V6 One Tonners offer the latest Bosch 8.0 ABS system with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.

So ABS remains optional on the base One Tonner, Crewman S V8 continues with Bosch 5.3 ABS and there is no traction control, let alone selected V6 VZ sedans’ ESP stability control.

There is, however, extra standard equipment for the base One Tonner in the shape of power windows and cruise control, which on top of the cosmetic re-style, new V6/manual and revised V8 and autos seems reasonable for the $850 base level price rise ($970 at S and S V8 level).

With the more complex overhead-cam cylinder heads of the new V6 negating much of the alloy engine construction’s weight savings, VZ One Tonner’s kerb weights remain almost lineball with the outgoing VY.

For the base One Tonner V6 they are 1529kg manual and 1532kg auto, with One Toner S weighing 1540kg manual and 1543kg auto and S V8 weighing 1581kg manual and 1587kg auto.

Similarly, One Tonner payloads remain unchanged at 1297kg manual/1294kg auto in base guise, with S able to haul 1286kg manual and 1283kg auto and One Tonner S V8 1245kg manual and 1239kg auto – almost double the Ute SS.

VZ One Tonner pricing starts at $26,290 (including optional air-conditioning worth $2250), on top of which ABS is available only in a $3780 Smartpack that also includes air-conditioning and a passenger airbag.

Auto is a $770 option, as it is with the $32,120 One Tonner S, while both manual and auto S V8 One Tonners are priced at $37,120.

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