HSV will farewell its long-running LS3 V8 engine by November. The 6.2L unit that was responsible for record sales at the Holden performance division will be sent off with three limited edition models, the SV Black, Grange SV and R8 Track Edition.
Each uses the familiar 340kW version of the V8, and HSV has added the mechanical sound enhancer that runs tubing under the bonnet to amplify the engine’s sound into the cabin.
But the limited edition models – just 650 will be offered between the three variants – will focus more on value than performance, with the supercharged V8 engines continuing in other HSV models, including the flagship GTS.
SV Black models get black styling tweaks, including black 20-inch alloys and black detailing on everything from mirrors to exhaust tips. The Grange SV also has the black detailing as well as new 20-inch alloys once reserved for the GTS. The R8 Track Edition gets potent six-piston brakes and black detailing, as well as stiffer springs for sharper handling.
Cerato aims to be the best
Kia has freshened its Cerato small car with the aim of making it one of the best-value small cars on sale. Priced from $19,990 drive-away for an automatic – matching rival Hyundai i30’s recent deals – Cerato brings an industry-leading seven-year warranty to the table.
One thing missing from the base S model, though, is a reversing camera, which is now standard on many rivals. It comes as part of a $500 option pack that also brings a seven-inch colour touchscreen.
All other models – the S Premium, Si and SLi – all get the camera, as well as sat-nav and other goodies. As well as styling changes that sharpen the nose, the new Cerato gets a 118kW/194Nm 2.0L four cylinder engine across the range. It has less power than the previous 2.0L used on more expensive models but more power than the 1.8L formerly used in the affordable versions.
Holden blazes a new trail
Holden will adopt the Trailblazer name for its new seven-seat SUV, formerly known as Colorado 7. Pictured here with Chevrolet badges, Trailblazer will still share its engine and chassis with the Colorado ute but gets fresh styling, a more upmarket interior and a name that helps separate it from its tradie sibling.
Holden engineers have also tinkered with the suspension tuning in an effort to make it more competitive against fresh rivals such as Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner.
Kuga gets a boost
Ford has enjoyed enormous success with its Ranger ute and Mustang muscle car. But everything else in the blue oval showroom has been selling poorly. Hence the recent tweaks to the Kuga family.
Earlier this year a reversing camera was (finally) fitted to all Kugas. Now the mid-sized SUV picks up dual-zone air-conditioning, digital radio, sat-nav and a new eight-inch colour touchscreen. Pricing kicks off at $29,990 for the auto.
Does VW beat its rivals?
The high-performance bug is set to spread across the dual-cab ute segment now that sales are at record highs. Already HSV is looking to develop a version of Colorado, there may be a TRD Toyota HiLux, and Ford is planning a Raptor version of Ranger.
But Volkswagen looks set to beat the lot with a V6 for the revised Amarok, due late this year. The update of VW’s inaugural ute gets a bolder nose as well as the option of a new 165kW/550Nm 3.0L diesel, set to become the only V6 in its class. The towing capacity in some models will also match class leaders, at 3500kg.
Emissions spark omissions
As well as HSV Grange, more models will fall victim to tighter emissions standards that come into play on 1 November. Depending on the vehicle, they stipulate lower levels for hydrocarbons and nitrous oxides, which can add to the cost of engine production.
Nissan will drop the long-running Y61 Patrol – the only diesel Patrol on the market – while Toyota is axing its retro-infused FJ Cruiser. Land Rover Defender – its heritage goes back to 1948 – also has had the chop.