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Chevrolet Colorado in for a tweak too

Double duty: This left-hand-drive Chevrolet Colorado was spotted on the streets of Melbourne, presumably being tested by Holden engineers who have also been seen testing the GMC version, the Canyon, recently.

Holden engineers working on Chev Colorado, as well as its GMC Canyon twin

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Chevrolet logo2 May 2018

TWO weeks ago we snapped a North American GMC Canyon engineering test vehicle on Australian roads, and now its Chevrolet twin, the Colorado, has been spotted in left-hand-drive guise in Melbourne.

The presence of the pick-up siblings out and about in Victoria lends weight to United States reports that a 2019 model-year update is being prepared for both the pick-ups, partly to counter the North American debut of the Australian-developed Ford Ranger early next year.

While the undisguised Canyon was photographed outside Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground, the similarly bare Colorado with the familiar ‘left-hand drive’ stickers across the back was seen at Glen Iris, in urban Melbourne, this week.

Both models share common underpinnings, including the same platform and powertrains, and both are built at GM’s Wentzville plant in Missouri.

Victoria is the home to GM Holden’s powertrain calibration engineering team – a unit of GM Global Propulsion Systems – that provides services for various GM brands, so a driveline upgrade is one likely explanation for the pick-ups’ cameo Down Under.

However, Holden has previously worked with the Colorado’s vehicle development “home room” in Brazil – GM du Brasil – on other aspects of the global pick-up and its derivatives, including suspension and steering tuning.

The dual-cab Chevrolet Colorado in our images is the high-riding 4x4 ZR2 sports flagship with fat alloy wheels, black plastic wheelarch trims and side-sill protectors.

Intriguingly, the vehicle appears to carry a “V5” badge on the tailgate. As far as we know, no Colorado variant carries that designation anywhere in the world, and nor does GM or the company’s Italian-based diesel engine provider, VM Motori, produce a vee-formation five-cylinder engine (or is likely to).

Security conscious GM is also unlikely to have allowed a new badge to be seen in public on an undisguised vehicle before release, leaving us to ponder the possibility of fun-loving engineers at Holden having fun with us.

A badge that is more likely to be seen on the Colorado in America when it goes into production late this year is Bison, according to various US reports.

The name has been trademarked by GM in the US, and if the speculation is correct, it will be applied to an off-road focused version of the Colorado ZR2 based on a concept shown by Chevrolet at the 2017 SEMA show in Las Vegas.

The vehicle was loaded up with off-road accessories from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), in similar style to the Colorado Xtreme show car masterminded by Holden designers for the 2016 Bangkok motor show.

A production Colorado ZR2 Bison might be a foil for Ford’s Ranger Raptor, should the latter be included in the Ranger line-up when it kicks off in North America in the first quarter of 2019.

In Australia, the Raptor will get Ford’s latest twin-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel that bangs out 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque – about 20kW more power and the same torque as the Thai-built, VM Motori-developed Duramax 2.8-litre turbo diesel in the US-spec Colorado.

In Australia, that same Colorado diesel produces a healthier 147kW of power, which might be a motive to send the American version back to the engineers for a powertrain tweak.

The Ford Ranger also is set to get a 10-speed automatic transmission on both the Australian Raptor and on the American-market 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol four-cylinder Ranger.

The Chevrolet Colorado is currently equipped with a six-speed auto on the diesel and eight-speed auto with the flagship 3.6-litre petrol V6.

GM might be tempted to slot the same 10-speeder in the Colorado, seeing as the transmission was a joint development by Ford and GM.

Chevrolet has a lot to protect: its Colorado has been going gangbusters in the showrooms this year, with US sales up 29 per cent in the first quarter. In Canada, it is doing even better, up 36.8 per cent.

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