My second time around in the Holden Colorado actually proved to be something of a fresh experience.
Having enjoyed a sneak preview of this truck in February, I'd gone to the June 12-13 launch with a sense of familiarity firmly entrenched.
However, the second drive - a 300km road run interspersed with time on a cattle station in southeast Queensland for off-roading and a towing test - chucked in a surprise element.
By February, Holden's development team was about 99% through its localisation of this global GM model, but we'd been told they'd yet to sign off on the final suspension tuning. Just one of the three utes I drove then was "close".
Close, but not the same. The abiding impression from driving the customer-ready examples was that further improvement has been wrought: the steering seemed sharper, no longer blighted by play at dead-centre.
Dynamically, they seemed more settled, with less body movement and chop.
Scott Doughty, who heads the development programme, confirmed my conclusions.
Everything comes back to the decisions made about the spring and damper settings that are bespoke to Holden.
The Colorado here is intrinsically different from how it handles in Brazil, where it was designed, and Thailand, where it is built. The first market prefers extra-sporty, the second extra-soft. Holden's setup isn't exactly equidistant, Doughty says, but anyone with experience of the others will immediately twig that it is discernibly different.
Of course, even the Australian programme was ultimately more about refinement than redesign, and much about the truck is the same the world over.
The basic recipe of everything being diesel-powered, able to handle a one-tonne payload and capable of towing 3.5 tonnes in 2.8-litre form (that's 10 of the 11 NZ market models) is "right" for us and so, too, the choice of body styles (single cab, cab-plus or doublecab), transmissions (five-speed manual or six-speed auto) and grade, with a new base DX grade making four levels now.
The model most likely to be exempted from weekday work is the flagship LTZ, whose appointment level with electronic climate air, electric seat adjust on the driver's side, and leather, and appointment level (side steps, a soft tonneau cover and, for crew-cabbers, the mandatory sports bar)
is most strongly attuned to urban expectation.
It's a pity even this derivative doesn't pick up all of the feel-good safety enhancements rival brands now feel compelled to include.
A technology update that now places stability control across the range stops short of trailer sway mitigation control and hill descent control. Both provide peace of mind for the unskilled. When trucks are set to be used as cars, it's a shame parking sensors aren't standard.
Other aspects leave it exposed to competitors: the absence of a reach-adjust feature on the steering column, the lack of a display screen, the Bluetooth setup's single device synch-ability, that there are just four lashing points in the tray, one in each corner, and no 12-volt power outlet or exterior light.
Cost considerations explain why the Colorado gets front airbags and full-length curtain airbags that protect both front and rear passengers' heads, but misses out on side airbags that protect the chest and abdomen.
Still, it is fundamentally solid. The Duramax 2.8-litre will be a major talking point as it is particularly strong for a four-cylinder, generating tangibly more punch than the old Isuzu 3.0-litre, albeit with a sometimes loud note. But there is a lot of muscle; a doublecab auto I drove was unflustered by having a three-tonne digger on the hook.
The Chevrolet-led styling is a huge attraction and so too the interior space at four-door level. Seat design up front is the same throughout the range, though the LTZ has most adjustability.
Like the Ranger/BT, it's a genuinely big vehicle with a wheelbase of 3096mm, 1792mm high and up to 1882mm wide. The tray length measures from 1484mm on the crew cab to 1795mm on the space and is 1534mm wide, narrowing to 1122mm between the arches - not quite wide enough to meet the standard test of taking a pallet, Holden concedes, but hardly small overall. The four-wheel-drives have a 30-degree approach angle, 22-degree departure angle and 23-degree break-over angle.
The accessories catalogue will be hard to resist. The 38 items include a snorkel kit, fog lights, cargo liner, towbar, bull bar, nudge bar, hard tonneau cover, floor mats and a bonnet protector, most developed by Holden's engineers.
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