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New models - Holden - One-Tonner

First drive: Holden's One-Tonner weighs in

Combination: The VY One-Tonner is part-monocoque and part-chassis frame.

After an 18-year gap Holden is back in the one-tonne cab chassis market

28 May 2003

IT'S back. After an 18-year absence the one-tonner cab-chassis utility returns to the Holden line-up from June 1, finally superseding the legendary WB.

Holden will offer the reborn load-lugger in both base specification and as an upmarket S model.

Developed over three years at a cost of $55 million with the assistance of TWR in the UK, the VY One-Tonner fills a significant hole in the Ute line-up and finally brings it on level terms with the Ford Falcon utility.

The Ford has been the sales leader for some years in the 4x2 Pick Up/Cab Chassis VFACTS category, even through the darkest days of the AU sedan.

Holden is now confident the addition of the One-Tonner will see VY Ute overtake the Falcon as the category sales leader. Between June 1 and the end of the year, Holden estimates 4225 sales for the One-Tonner.

That's despite the expectation that there will be cannibalisation between VY Ute and One-Tonner.

"There may be some people who cross over from Ute to One-Tonner but that's fine," said Holden light commercial vehicle marketing manager Alan Blazevic.

"At the end of the day we are happier that they come across to One-Tonner than go somewhere else." Base drivetrain specification for the One-Tonner will be the 152kW/305Nm 3.8-litre Ecotec V6 mated only to a heavy-duty version of the ubiquitous 4L60 four-speed automatic transmission.

But because of the extra load capacity and the drivetrain strain that imposes, there will be no manual gearbox made available with the V6.

If you want the option of manual shifting then you'll have to upgrade to the 5.7-litre Gen III V8, which offers the choice of either six-speed manual or heavy duty 4L65 auto transmissions.

The base model V6 One-Tonner kicks off the pricing at $26,210, with the S variant climbing to $31,920. The 225kW/460Nm V8 is only available as an S and is $36,150 mated to either transmission.

That compares to the Falcon line-up which starts at $25,850 for the XL cab-chassis manual and $26,770 for the cab-chassis floor auto. The XL cab-chassis 220kW 5.4-litre Barra V8 manual is $30,850, while the auto is $31,770.

A one-tonne suspension is also a $470 option on the XL Styleside, XLS cab-chassis and XLS Styleside.

The Holden One-Tonner is unlike the rest of the Ute range because it is not based on the monocoque long wheelbase W-Car platform also used by the Commodore station wagon and Statesman/Caprice luxury models, complete with independent rear suspension.

Instead it gets a unique part-monocoque and part-chassis frame construction, incorporating a "torque arm" system that connects the two sections together.

Holden claims this is a world first. Whereas most conventional pick-ups employ a "torque-box" system with the chassis frame welded to the cab, the Holden chassis frame has additional reinforcement beams and webbing that allow a separate frame structure to be bolted into place.

Holden argues bolting rather than welding is the best option because it allows the use of heavier gauge material and creates a much stiffer, stronger and more durable bond.

Underneath the chassis frame is a live axle rear suspension complete with elliptical leaf spring suspension, just like all Falcon utilities. That ensures the base model Holden can carry the full one-tonne payload, although that capability diminishes as you go upmarket.

There's also a reinforced prop shaft and rear axle housing, heavy duty wheels and specially developed tyres to cope with the extra load, along with uprated brakes.

The front MacPherson strut suspension and rack and pinion steering have also been retuned to match the new rear suspension and increased load capacity.

All this means the One-Tonner is no lightweight, kicking off at 1483kg for the base model, escalating to 1542kg for the V8 S auto.

At 5230mm, One-Tonner is the longest Holden on the market. It also has the longest wheelbase (3200mm) in its class and is wider (2047mm) and higher (1507mm) than the Holden Ute.

And the news is the forthcoming two and four-wheel drive crew cab models will be even longer, although they will share the same monocoque/chassis design as the One-Tonner.

Body style options include a general purpose alloy tray, high-feature dropside tray complete with removable sides, side ladder step and a header board. At the top of the list is a hard wood tray with colour-coded steel combing and load board.

Inside the cabin the look is familiar to any Commodore driver, although behind the seats 250 litres of additional space has been created including two recesses for street directories and the like.

Base model specification is just that, pretty basic. There's a CD player, power mirrors, auto headlights, bucket seats and a driver's airbag.

Air-conditioning adds $2250 and a passenger airbag $495. If you want ABS, it comes as part of a pack which also includes air-conditioning and a passenger airbag. The price is a hefty $3780.

ABS, air-conditioning and a passenger airbag are all standard for S, along with a limited slip differential, 16x7-inch alloy wheels, power antenna, power-adjustable drivers' seat, power windows and a leather-wrap steering wheel. A six-disc CD changer adds $595.

Holden One Tonner V6 auto $26,210
Holden One Tonner S V6 auto $31,920
Holden One Tonner S V8 manual $36,150
Holden One Tonner S V8 auto $36,150


YEE-HAH! Take a primitive rear suspension, not a lot of weight over the top of it and plenty of power and torque to dump through the rear wheels and what have you got? Like we said, yee-hah! The One-Tonner is B&S ball heaven, just primed to hit the paddock and do some circle work. But unlike its VY Ute bretheren, it can also be a nose-to-the-grindstone worker thanks to its utilitarian design and construction.

Holden is spinning the line that the VY One-Tonner offers car-like on-road behaviour despite the separate chassis and leaf sptrings hanging off the back.

Sort of. Interior presentation, comfort and noise, vibration and harshness levels are familiar to any Commodore buyer. Sure, it's a bit noisier, but it is still very acceptable for a workhorse.

Where it gets a little bit sloppy is over rougher, tougher and chopped-up surfaces where the rear-end does tend to start bouncing around and passing some of that through to the cabin.

But we couldn't sample the car with a load onboard and that may change things.

It certainly steered okay and was very car-like in that regard. The biggest issue once the spaces got tighter and the traffic more congested was One-Tonner's sheer length.

There's a lot of metal hanging out there behind the cabin - and the rear wheels! Performance is as impressive as ever out of the V8 engine, particularly when mated to the six-speed manual gearbox. No problem lighting it up off the line, or getting a slide happening around a slow corner.

Having said that, it's not tail-happy without being provoked on tarmac surfaces, tracking along nicely and behaving itself primly and properly.

The downside of a big engine is usually fuel consumption, but our combined average over all sorts of conditions from commuting to freeway hauling came out at an acceptable 14.2L/100km. Happily, regular unleaded is the fuel of choice.

Overall, VY One-Tonner is an appropriate update from the WB, refined enough to take the missus out on Saturday night yet also still with enough brute to cope with hard work.

And those circle work paddocks.

It's just a pity it took 18 years for Holden to build it.

GoAuto can help you buy a new One-Tonner

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