2014 Holden Colorado Review : Walkinshaw Xtreme Low Rider

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You're a tradie and like the overall dimensions and capabilities of the Holden Colorado but you're after a more unique look and want it to feel a little less like a commercial vehicle.

Well, however niche, Australia's Walkinshaw Performance has the answer and it's called the Walkinshaw Colorado Xtreme Low Rider.

Clearly distinguished from its standard Holden Colorado donor vehicle by model specific decals, the Walkinshaw Colorado Xtreme Low Rider has been made exclusively available to specific Holden dealers as a package retailing for $6990 – an LED daytime running light kit can also be added for an additional $795 or purchased as a standalone product.

The kit is able to be fitted in-house to all new current-generation two- and four-wheel-drive Colorados, and can also be retrofitted to existing Colorados. However, it is not compatible with the Colorado 7 SUV.

More than simply a sticker kit, the pack teams specifically engineered suspension and suspension tuning with unique 19-inch Graphite Black Walkinshaw Automotive 19-inch forged alloy wheels and 55-profile Continental tyres. It also comes with the balance of any new car warranty and a certificate of authenticity.

Sitting 30mm lower than the standard Colorado at the rear (the front end's ride height is unchanged), the Walkinshaw Colorado Xtreme Low Rider kit includes Bilstein struts along with mono-tube Bilstein dampers front and rear with Walkinshaw Automotive developed valving.

Walkinshaw-engineered springs also mean an increase in front spring rates and a decrease in rears.

Helped by the addition of an alternative rear bump stop configuration, the local tuner says the Xtreme Low Rider kit – and its jacked up Xtreme High Rider stablemate – has been rigorously tested to ensure there is no impact on vehicle GVM and load carrying capacity or the effectiveness or accuracy of electronic stability control (ESC) or speedometer calibration.

With the technical side covered it was time to test out what a long history of motorsport experience can do to a commercial pickup.

Based on the $52,190 six-speed automatic-equipped crew-cab Holden Colorado LTZ 4x4, Walkinshaw’s black Xtreme Low Rider test car remains powered by the standard Colorado’s 147kW/500Nm 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder.

On the road, there’s no masking the base car’s loud engine, high wind noise and front-end suspension creak over speed bumps.

But where the standard Colorado, riding on its taller 65-profile 17-inch Bridgestone tyres, feels floaty and loose at both ends, the Xtreme Low Rider is far more strapped down and stable.

Sitting in the comfortable cloth driver’s seat and immersed in the base Colorado’s basic cabin – the Xtreme Low Rider changes are exclusively reserved for the exterior and underpinnings – you feel noticeably lower to the ground.

The Walkinshaw variant feels more capable and controlled than the standard car, with less body-roll teaming with additional lateral and corner exit grip to inspire plenty of confidence.

Legitimately a lot more ‘car-like’, the Walkinshaw Colorado replaces the standard ute's slow and vague steering with sharper response and feedback, as well as much improved turn-in.

And though the dynamic improvements make it feel significantly less agricultural compared with the base Holden product, its trade-off is that it makes what is normally a soft and forgiving – if a little bouncy – ride, noticeably firmer and busier.

Over corrugated roads it transmits a greater number of bumps and associated vibrations through the wheel and into the cabin than the standard car, which instead uses its somewhat doughy nature to dampen the impact of such irregularities.

Coming off bigger bumps it settles quicker than the standard Colorado, though it still scuttles when it strikes bumps.

So while Walkinshaw’s suspension, wheel and tyre upgrades unquestionably improve the Colorado’s competency when being pushed along – a situation where the standard car can quickly feel out of its depth – it still struggles to handle road imperfections and potholes with finesse.

And there in lies the challenge facing the Walkinshaw Colorado Xtreme Low Rider and the extra expense attached to it.

The outcome of the extra outlay is noticeable as soon as you jump in it, but how many people really want or need a more strapped down, dynamic, sharper version of their Holden Colorado? And will such a niche vehicle win a large number of fans in the highly competitive pick-up market?

Walkinshaw has 30 kits to sell to the end of August (70 of the Xtreme High Rider) and says they’ve sold more than half their planned allocation with more to be offered from October depending on demand.

If a more comfortable, slightly wallowy workhorse of a ute is the requirement, stick with the stocker (or better yet, read our Ute Comparison to see which is the best in its field).

However, if you want a uniquely styled and tuned Holden Colorado that’s significantly more eager to be given a hard time on entertaining back roads, the Walkinshaw Xtreme Low Rider could be your best bet. Plus, you can’t deny it looks tough, too.

Images by James Ward.