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Bangkok show: Holden masterminds Colorado concepts

Agent orange: Chevrolet’s Colorado Xtreme might be a show car, but some of the changes will turn up on Holden’s facelifted Colorado Series II range late this year.

Colorado concepts give a clue to facelifted Holden ute and SUV due late this year


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22 Mar 2016

A PAIR of Holden-crafted Chevrolet concept vehicles unveiled at the Bangkok motor show today provide pointers to future Holden Colorado utes and SUVs.

The base sheetmetal of the two vehicles is from the facelifted Colorado and Colorado 7 siblings due to go on sale in Australia later this year, while the glam show-car modifications provide a further look into “the near future” of Colorado’s styling direction.

The buffed-up Colorado Xtreme and Trailblazer (Colorado 7) Premier concepts were masterminded by General Motors Australia Design in Melbourne on behalf of GM International as part of a campaign to rev up Chevrolet’s light truck and SUV presence across Asia, particularly Thailand, where Toyota products reign supreme.

Australian and Thai journalists were given rare access to the top-secret Holden design and fabrication studios for an embargoed preview of the part-built vehicles and chat to the designers last month, before the completed cars were shipped to Bangkok for the show.

GM Australia Design director Richard Ferlazzo said the Chevrolet vehicles are strictly show cars and not destined for production, but conceded that they provide a glimpse of the future design direction GM would take with the Thai-built Colorado and Trailblazer (known as Colorado 7 in Australia).

“These vehicles are show cars, but they are very real, (we are) not taking them too far out,” he said.

GoAuto understands that the sheetmetal forward of the A-pillars on both vehicles is representative of the upgraded Series II production models that, like the Colorado Series I that has done duty in Australia since 2012, come under the responsibility of GM’s design studios in Brazil.

As we have reported, the Colorado range has also been receiving an engineering pull-through at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria, most likely for chassis tuning.

Thailand and Australia are the most important markets for the Thai-built Colorado range – Thailand providing good volume and Australia good profit.

At GM’s request, the show cars were conceived and designed with a dollop of bling from GM Australia designers before being built at Holden’s design fabrication workshop in Fishermens Bend – one of only two in the GM world.

Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard said the show vehicles were created to gauge interest and receive feedback from customers.

“The Colorado Xtreme and Trailblazer Premier show vehicles were created with the intent of injecting excitement and passion into the critical light commercial and SUV segments, while reinforcing Holden and Chevrolet’s commitment to exciting design and listening to customer feedback,” he said.

“It’s especially exciting that our GM Australia design team were able to lead this project, working in collaboration with GM Brazil and GM Thailand.”

The jacked-up Colorado Xtreme represents a totally macho off-road ute, loaded to the gunnels with heavy-duty accessories including a massive rear sports bar, wide all-terrain wheels, black wheelarch extenders and a new-look snorkel air intake for the 2.8-litre diesel engine.

It even has a colour-coded spade and high-lift jack in the cargo tub, along with an extra spare wheel.

Apart from testing the design limits of a possible rugged Colorado variant, the project also provided fertile ground for designing possible accessories for the vehicle.

The Australian design team, led by exterior designer Jeffrey Haggarty and interior designer Harsha Ravi, wanted to endow the Xtreme with “a feeling of toughness” inside and out.

Dressed in a look-at-me semi-matte orange exterior coat (dubbed ‘Furness’) that resembles an anodised finish, the Xtreme’s hand-sprayed paintjob is offset with black wheels and trim that looks powder-coated.

The colour scheme – crafted by a team led by designer Charlene Spiteri – is carried into the vehicle’s interior.

Ms Spiteri said the designers looked at “a whole spectrum” of materials from around the world when considering the various finishes for the interior of the Xtreme and Trailblazer Premier.

While the Xtreme ute takes the rugged look, the Trailblazer concept heads in the other direction, as an upmarket urban luxury SUV “with something of a family feel”.

Outside, the Trailblazer is adorned with extra chrome for a premium look, while the interior features grey and brown surfaces. Instead of the usual wood, carbon-fibre or metallic strip to break up the expanse of plastic across the dash, the Trailblazer Premier has a natural-looking loose-weave material.

Mechanically, the vehicles are believed to be production standard, with 2.8-litre diesel powertrains taken from the Series II Colorado and Colorado 7 that are both set for production at GM’s Thai plant later this year.

Holden is yet to confirm the Australian launch date for the vehicles, but GoAuto understands it will be in the fourth quarter.

It is not the first time Holden has had a hand in a Colorado concept, preparing one of three global concepts for Colorado ahead of the current model’s global launch.

The vehicle, penned by young Holden designer Ben Last, was shown at the Australian International Motor Show in 2011.

As well, Australian Kirsty Lindsay was in charge of colour and trim design for the production vehicle, based in Brazil before the 2012 launch.

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