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A Top Contender

Make no mistake, the ute segment is thoroughly crammed with choice. Holden’s Colorado has been a strong option for many years, but against its rivals, it fell short. Today, things are different. The Colorado is now sharper, more rugged and stuffed with more tech than ever before. Holden New Zealand allowed this writer to spend a week with one, in all manner of conditions, to see how the range-topping Colorado Z71 can hold its own in the ute war.



Starting in the looks department, the new Colorado Z71 is a handsome truck to say the least. Most utes’ priorities are function over fashion, which is self-explanatory really. However, it’s nice to see Holden make an effort in giving the refreshed Colorado a clean cut and stylish mug. Available solely as a double cab, the Z71 sports 18-inch Arsenal Grey Alloys, blacked out mirrors and door handles, black roof bars, and a vast array of Z71 badging. Nice.

Under the bonnet sits a 2.8-litre Duramax diesel engine mated to a simple six-speed manual or auto box. This means 147kW of grunt is sent to all four wheels, which incidentally is exactly the same as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak. Torque comes in at 500Nm for the automatic too, while the Z71 still returns fuel consumption of 8.7L/100km.



For the previous Colorado, the interior was decent at best. However, things have certainly moved up a gear with the Z71. Leather chairs keep you cocooned nicely and there is ample head and legroom. There has also been a revamp of tech including Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Sat Nav and voice activation are also features of the fully loaded Z71’s Mylink infotainment system.

Steering is very light with 3.3 turns lock to lock, however the design of the wheel itself takes a bit of getting used to. Plant boot and that Duramax diesel comes into play above 1,500 rpm. Power under control would be a good way to describe the power delivery of the Z71. You can change between two- and four-wheel drive while on the move, though for low range, coming to a complete stop is essential.



Leave the bitumen and onto the rough stuff, the Z71 manages itself well. The four-wheel-drive provides an even torque split, leaving you able to devour a great deal of rough stuff at a great rate. The six-speed-auto box shifts well and with maximum torque coming way low in the rev range, you can keep the power on to great effect.

To be honest, I have been rather taken by the Colorado Z71. At $66,990, it undercuts a number of its rivals and don’t think you are getting less of a truck. Basically, if you have the brochure of the Colorado Z71 on your coffee table at home, keep it handy because this ute is not one you should overlook.



Holden Equinox LTZ-V

Aussie Lion: Holden Equinox LTZ-V

The Holden Captiva wasn’t much to shout about. Against the competition, it sadly failed to cut the mustard in terms of design, function and driving dynamics. Clearly a re-think was required and Holden has responded brilliantly with the all-new Equinox.


Holden Equinox LTZ-V


Aimed squarely at the Mazda CX5 and Honda’s HRV, the Mexican built Equinox, which sits firmly between the smaller Trax and larger all-new Acadia, is leading Holden’s charge in the intensely competitive mid-sized premium SUV market, but is it any good? Styling wise the Equinox is a big improvement over its Captiva predecessor. Its unmistakable American lines certainly help the Equinox stand out. Inside and out, the Equinox is generously well equipped. My test car was the range topping LTZ-V AWD petrol at $56,990. This gets you 19-inch alloys, LED headlights, Hands Free Tailgate and Semi-Automatic Parking.

The LTZ-V contains a barrage of safety kit too. Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, are all a welcome addition to your commute. Plus, the driver’s ‘Haptic Seat’ will vibrate if a hazard in your path is detected. Inside there is a panoramic sunroof, heated/cooled front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, leather trim and Holden’s MyLink infotainment system with digital radio, sat nav and wireless phone charging. The standard Bose stereo also provides you with the closest audio experience to hearing Led Zeppelin live.

These aforementioned toys are all easy to get your head around, though interior quality is sadly lacking with a number of buttons and switches feeling a tad second rate. However, the Equinox claws back with a gargantuan amount of interior space. Whether you factor in the front and rear seats, or its 846-litre boot (which can be increased to 1798-litres with 60/40 split seats folded flat), this cat has more than enough room to swing one. On the move, the Equinox does rather well. The nine-speed automatic box shifts up and down smoothly, and the punch from its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 188kW and 353Nm of torque is epic.

From low down to beyond the mid-range, the combination of power and torque left me barrelling along much quicker than expected. However, its combined 8.4L/100km fuel consumption figures mean it does like to drink and infrequent torque steer keeps you on your toes. The LTZ-V is actually a full-time front wheel drive car until you activate the AWD mode on the centre console. Steering can be vague, but in the corners themselves the Equinox, despite a kerb weight of 1778kg, tracks well and true, especially in AWD mode.

Despite the minor drawbacks, the Holden Equinox LTZ-V has a lot going for it. With plenty of grunt, features and class leading interior space, this Holden SUV is well worth considering and proof there is plenty of life in the Aussie lion yet.




An automotive overview: change and challengers in the modern motoring world

When it comes to the automobile, the road to success has been paved with innovation and, although one could argue the automotive vehicle’s modern incarnation works in much the same way as its early predecessors, there’s no denying that it is an industry which continues to push the bounds of technology.


At its heart, the manufacturing processes behind vehicle production are becoming quicker, cheaper, safer, more efficient and better for the environment, with the automotive industry estimated to be 90 percent cleaner than 20 years ago, despite epic increases in production.
The resulting products too are more creative, clever, cleaner and colourful than ever before. We look at the driving forces behind this innovative industry.


In New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud is becoming the land of SUVs and utes, with the best-selling vehicles of the Kiwi automotive charts for the past three years consisting of almost no traditional cars.
The leader of the automotive pack for the past three years, the Ford Ranger headed both the light-commercial and overall new-vehicle sales segments for 2017, ahead of the Toyota Hilux.
The popularity of these beefed up vehicles shows no sign of abating, which brings us to our next automotive trend…




There’s an SUV in the range of almost every mainstream manufacturer now and their ‘souped up’ styling is having an increasing influence on the design of other vehicles, as standard car models become rugged versions of their more traditional rides, with raised suspension and additional body cladding.
In fact, Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUVs) are becoming the darlings of urban forecourts, with the craze expected to continue to increase throughout 2018 as even more manufacturers get in on the action. Often more affordable to purchase and cheaper to run than traditional SUVs, they still offer the raised ride and high driving position we’re craving.


No longer is vehicle shopping a one size fits all affair, with colour customisation proving increasing popular. Manufacturers are accommodating the market’s desire for unique colour combinations and never before have there been so many possibilities.
A popular player in the ‘baby SUV’ market, the Citroen C3 Aircross offers 85 creative combinations, while Nissan offers more than 100 for both the exterior and interior of the small city runaround, the Micra.


There’s been a significant increase in interest in petrol hybrids and, as more models hit the market, we can certainly expect this trend to continue.
The longer battery ranges of plug-in hybrids and electric cars further increases their appeal and, as engines get smaller, more economical and cleaner without losing any power, they are getting attention on the mainstream market.


Vehicles are getting smarter, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto heading towards ubiquity in 2018. Making the apps you use on your smartphone available every time you get behind the wheel, options such as Bluetooth, sat-nav and parking sensors – once the domain of premium brands – are now standard features in most new vehicles coming into the market.
And better yet, wireless charging is increasingly common, as the number of smartphone handsets with this capability increases.


We have seen many more vehicles offered with safety features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and blind spot detection as standard or at least as an affordable option.
With a greater emphasis being put on safety as a selling point for cars we should begin to see more advanced safety tech as standard as the year goes on.