Holden VE Ute “Evolution”

December 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The all new Holden UTE, evolved through time. Directed by Mark Toia

The Falcon Ute … ‘Never Leave’

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Showing the unbelievable Falcon Ute

Holden Ute – first NZ ute to get 5-Star safety

October 20th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Holden VE Ute fq

Holden’s VE Ute range has become the first utility in New Zealand to receive a maximum five star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) or the Euro New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP).

This follows the announcement last month that Holden achieved another New Zealand safety first by launching the first utility vehicle to offer six airbags as standard across the range.

The latest result means Holden’s entire Australian manufactured vehicle range now carries a five star safety rating from ANCAP.

The ANCAP result reflects the long list of safety features found standard across the VE Ute range including side impact airbags, curtain airbags and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) which incorporates Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Traction Control System (TCS).

Holden Vehicle Structure & Safety Integration Manager, Steve Curtis said Holden had a long and proud history of delivering safety firsts.

Ford won’t match Holden for ute safety

September 23rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Ford FG Falcon Ute airbags

Ford Australia has just confirmed that it won’t be increasing the number of airbags in its range of FG Falcon utes. There was speculation on whether Ford would offer side and curtain airbags as standard. This came after another recent announcement from Holden that the entire 2010 Commodore ute line-up will feature six airbags from the factory.

In base-model guise, the Ford Falcon ute currently scores 4-Stars in ANCAP tests. To achieve a 5-Star rating a vehicle must pass a side-impact pole test.

Ford is offering an optional safety package that includes side, head and thorax airbags for its FG ute range, and stability control is available on base model utes as a factory option. Now its been revealed that there’s no plans to make these safety features standard for all model variants.

In justifying the decision, Ford Australia President and CEO Marin Burela said ute customers preferred to have the extra safety kit available, but did not want it fitted as standard if it meant a price increase.

Mr Burela also said that Ford Australia would be keeping a keen eye on how buyers react to Holden’s new safety-enhanced Commodore ute over the coming months, and making the safety pack standard-fit across the Falcon ute range wasn’t entirely out of the question.

The FG Falcon sedan range currently has a full 5-Star ANCAP rating.

Holden utes now pack six airbags

September 15th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham


Holden is looking to boost its safety credentials in NZ by launching the first utility vehicle to offer six airbags as standard across the range.

Holden’s 2010 model year ute will introduce side impact and curtain airbags as standard equipment on all ute models.

The entire MY10 VE and WM range, including utes, also receive a steering column shroud energy absorber that helps to reduce driver knee injuries and a passenger seat belt reminder.

The combination of front, side and curtain airbags, together with ESC as standard across the range makes Holden utes a safe choice in the light commercial segment.

GM Holden Director of Safety and Integration, Ian Butler, said making six airbags standard across the entire Ute range was a positive step forward for occupant safety in the LCV market.

“Holden believes that occupant safety is just as important in the LCV market as it is in the family sedan market,” Mr Butler said.

“Safety features are not something that should be limited to vehicle types or models and should be standard on all our vehicles, including those in the light commercial market.

The five-star rated MY10 range – Commodore sedans, Sportwagon, Statesman and the upgraded Ute will go on sale later this month.

FPV unleashes new GS Sedan and GS Ute

September 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

FPV GS sedan s

It’s great news for Ford fans with Ford Performance Vehicles launching an all-new GS Sedan and GS Ute this week. The new models mark a reinventing of a badge that goes back 30 years to the XW GS of 1969.

Like that earlier GS, the new limited-edition model is to provide a lower price entry-point into FPV’s performance models.

Priced in Australia at $54,950 AUS for the Sedan, and $49,950 AUS for the Ute, the GS variants are priced to sit between Ford’s XR range and FPV’s GT and F6.

Developed specifically for the GS Series, the recalibrated FPV 5.4 litre V8 GT engine from the FG-model now produces 302kW of power and 551Nm of torque, driving through a standard six-speed manual transmission.

“We aimed to provide the GS Series owner with a GT driving experience with this engine. AT 302kW, it’s the perfect entry to our range, which steps up to the turbocharged F6 at 310kW and the full GT-spec V8 at 315kW,” FPV General Manager Rod Barrett said.

The GT-based V8 under the bonnet runs the twin-throttle bodies and intake system of the GT, but with a recalibrated ECU taking the top-edge off the power output but matching the GT’s 551Nm of torque.

Featuring GS graphics, FPV chassis enhancements and interior updates, and sitting on 19-inch rims (Graphite for the Sedan, Alpine Silver for the Ute), there is a hefty dollop of ‘bang for the dollar’ value loaded into the GS.

Every FPV GS Series also comes standard with unique GS striping graphics, charcoal cloth interior, FPV GT instrumentation, gear knob, starter button and badging, premium sound system with iPod and Bluetooth integration, and dual zone climate control.

With just 250 Sedans and 75 Utes to be released, buyers may need to be quick off the mark.

FPV is banking on the new limited edition GS to excite buyers, and it may do that being a smart car at a smart price.

“People are still out there to buy fast Fords. There is always going to be a market for FPVs,” according to Rod Barrett.

Toyota Hilux SR5 2009 Review

May 29th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham


Having a tough guy reputation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be just ask the Toyota Hilux. When the first Hilux rolled off the production line back in 1968 few would have thought that it would be built for six-generations and become notorious for unfailing durability and reliability. But this hard man rep comes at a cost, competitors want to tear into you, popular TV shows perform cruel experiments like dropping you from a crane, and your advertising campaigns use slogans that were swear words in the 1950s. Because you never break you just can’t catch a break. Bugger that. However the Hilux was built for the tough times and now with a new facelift for 2009 it’s still strong and still looking sharp.

So what’s new for 2009? Well there are subtle changes inside and out but the Hilux is still packing the same wallop under the bonnet. The 3.0-litre common-rail 4-cylinder diesel engine whacks out 126kW of power and a stump-pulling 343Nm of torque. These are strong stats among the Hilux’s competitors and are key factors in the Hilux being the ute to beat. The diesel unit offers pace on the road, shifting off the line with haste and happily humming along at cruising speeds. What’s more impressive is the Hilux’s ability to tow or haul very heavy loads with the full compliment of torque being available from just 1,400 rpm. Combined with a 2.5-tonne braked towing capacity the Hilux can just drag anything it can’t carry.

While lashings of torque are useful for farmyard duties it can prove a hindrance on the tarmac. Driving on stock tyres without load and in 2WD mode on city roads the Hilux can prove a handful; this is intensified in wet conditions. Too much throttle and the Hilux’s rear wheels can lose grip easily and although the oversteer is predictable to the point of being entertaining, you can’t help but feel that it’s a little dangerous. That said, if you are up to speed and on twisty roads the Hilux changes direction with little fuss. There is an acceptable amount of body roll and the steering is direct and reasonably weighted. With heavy-duty hauling expectations the Hilux’s suspension is understandably firm, but overall ride quality is generally comfortable. The Hilux’s ground clearance is consistent with other utes but it doesn’t feel as high when cornering as some competitors. Cabin noise is evident but not unreasonably intrusive and the inclusion of cruise control brings some leisure to long trips.

I tested both manual and automatic transmissions and was more impressed by the auto box. The manual was good for helping control the grunt at the rear but it had a long throw and needed to be eased into gear at times. By comparison the auto was relaxed, changed smoothly and providing the accelerator was used lightly it never hunted or changed gear unexpectedly.

So it moves well, but how does it look? Suitably staunch; the exterior styling of utes is confined by their practical shape, but the Hilux achieves some individuality. The 2009 model facelift has brought a new trapezoidal grille and grey plate bar along with a redesigned bumper that helps give an impression of a low centre of gravity. It’s definitely not beautiful but it wouldn’t want to be and with flared wheel arches, new 15-inch alloys and chrome touches it’s a worthy canvas to be painted with mud and dust.

Step inside and the cabin is a mix of charcoal and grey plastics broken up by silver accents. It’s Spartan and symmetrical but thought has been put into the ergonomics and all controls and cup holders are well placed. There are some useful modern touches like stereo controls on the leather-trimmed steering wheel, a ringed instrument cluster, CD player, remote central locking and a digital display for air conditioning settings. The seats are well bolstered for lateral movement and cushioned for any vertical movement that may occur. The double cab has very impressive leg room in the back seat and although it only has a lap seat belt for the middle occupant it is the most practical back pew I’ve seen in a double cab ute. Overall the Hilux’s cabin is pleasant it offers commanding visibility, enough room for five and has an effective air-con unit that filters any dust or pollen from entering.

It doesn’t matter how hardy the Hilux’s reputation may be things can still go wrong, to combat this driver and passenger airbags are standard as are pre-tensioners on the front seatbelts. ABS is now a welcome inclusion on all variants but electronic stability control remains noticeably absent. With disc brakes at the front but only drums at the rear the Hilux doesn’t posses a strong braking bite.

The bottom line is that despite the Hilux’s reputation and popularity it remains an agricultural vehicle. It is underpinned by a serious 4wd set up and although this is profusely practical off-road the Hilux’s unladen on road manners can be raw. In double cab form can the Hilux replace a SUV as an all round family lifestyle vehicle? Off —road, yes. On-road definitely not.

The Nissan Navara ST-X can match the Hilux for looks and the Mazda BT-50 pips it for driving dynamics, but the Hilux’s grunt, build quality and legendary toughness will mean it retains its title as the kingpin of the ute segment.

Click through to the next page for a specifications list.

Price: from $58,190

What we like:

  • Class-leading power-to-weight ratio
  • Interior ergonomics
  • Backseat leg room (double cab)

What we don’t like:

  • No electronic stability program/traction control
  • Rear drum brakes
  • Wet weather oversteer

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Other car reviews of interest:

Mitsubishi Triton GLS (2010) — Road Test

Ford Ranger Wildtrak (2009) — Road Test

Mazda BT-50 2WD (2009) — Road Test

Holden Colorado LT (2008) — Road Test

Nissan Navara ST-X (2008) — Road Test

Toyota Hilux SR5 (2009) – Specifications


Engine Model Code 1KD-FTV
Type In-line, 4 cylinder, 16 valve DOHC with Turbocharger and Intercooler
Alternator 100 amps
Battery Voltage 12 volts
Bore 96 mm
Capacity 2982 cc
Compression 17.9
Configuration In-line; 4 cylinder
Fuel Tank Capacity 76 litres
Fuel Type Diesel
Injection Type Common rail; direct injection
Location Front; longitudinal
Maximum Power 126 Kw 3600 rpm
Maximum Torque 343 Nm 1400-3400 rpm
Starter 2.2 kW
Stroke 103 mm
Vehicle Fuel Economy Information
Fuel Economy Rating 3.5 out of 6
Litres per 100km 9.3
Fuel Cost Per Year2008 cost per year based on price per litre of $1.85 and an average distance of 14,000 km $2,220


Front Track 1540 mm
Rear Track 1540 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 2780 kg
Kerb Weight 1855-1990 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance 212 mm
Overall Height 1810 mm
Overall Length 5255 mm
Overall Width 1835 mm
Tow Capacity Braked 2500 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked 750 kg
Wheelbase 3085 mm


Minimum Turning Circle 12.40
Steering Ratio 19.40 m
Turns lock to lock 3.70

FPV Super Pursuit FG 2008 Review

September 15th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


I feel for the FPV Super Pursuit, I really do. It’s tough being an Australian living in New Zealand, especially as I’m now ‘the one with the strange eccent’. Also being the only Aussie ever to leave the sunny climes of Queensland for the wet and windy wilds of Auckland I share a deep sense of confusion with FPV’s newest ute as to its, and my purpose here.

With the Super Pursuit it’s not so much a sense of purpose that is lacking – with 315kW on tap from the 5.4 litre quad-cam V8 it has plenty of sporting pretension – more a sense of identity. The FPV features a leaf spring rear end which is great for carrying loads, but not conducive to sporty handling. This manifests itself in corners with the light rear end not inspiring confidence in the driver to push harder in what FPV refers to as a ‘sports coupe’. There is also axle tramp under hard acceleration which makes a smooth driving style the best option when starting away from traffic lights.

The scale of the FPV is the first thing that surprises – it is a big car. Out on the road you forget about the size of the Super Pursuit as it seems to shrink around you in the usual Ford way, making you feel like you’re part of the machinery as opposed to just a passenger. The only time you really notice its width is when you look behind you at the long tray with its bulging tonneau cover.

The ‘power bulge’ on the bonnet is amusing in both name and form. It does bring a smile to your face and gives you a strange feeling of enhanced masculinity when driving. It is very easy to be mesmerized by the bonnet bulge and the V8 noise emanating from beneath it which is not as loud and captivating as HSV offerings but still sounds like it means business.

The Super Pursuit is also not as loud as the HSV Maloo R8 in terms of exterior styling. The rear end look of the FPV lacks serious balls compared to the Maloo as the back of the FPV is so wide that the standard 245/35ZR19 rear wheels look puny and are inset into the wheel arches rather than sitting flush. A much wider tyre would give the Super Pursuit the cojones that the HSV carries.

The interior is functional and feels higher quality than in an HSV. The sport seats look inviting and do provide very good support, but weren’t that comfortable on a long drive – maybe I’m getting old. The ride is firm and feedback through the thick steering wheel is solid.

So with the Super Pursuit, FPV has tried to imbue it with the capability to be a town and country ute, just as capable of carting a dozen sheep as it is cruising for sheilas on a Friday night.

This combination caters to nouveau-riche builders and electricians who now regularly earn six-figure salaries in Australia. For those needing to cart a tool kit and light loads (it’ll carry just over half a tonne) and still look stylish, the Super Pursuit could be the ticket as it is just a bit cheaper than the Maloo and can carry heavier loads.

Price: from $72,990

What we like

  • ‘Power bulge’ bonnet
  • Revable V8
  • Interior quality

What we don’t like

  • Wimpy rear end styling
  • V8 not loud enough; road noise too loud
  • Seats not especially comfortable


Boss 315 – high performance
5.4 litre quad-cam 32 valve V8
Maximum power (DIN) – 315kW @ 6500rpm
Maximum torque (DIN) – 551Nm @ 4750rpm
Fuel management system – sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
FPV high-flow dual exhaust system
FPV blue rocker cover
FPV stainless steel fabricated exhaust manifolds


ADR81-01 (L/100km) – manual/automatic 14.7/14.4
Comparative CO2 emissions (grams/km)- manual/automatic 352/344


ZF 6-speed high-torque automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift NCO
TR6060 6-speed Manual with leather and satin chrome gear knob


FPV Performance independent double wishbone front suspension
FPV 19″ x 8.0 Alloy wheel fitted with 245/35ZR19 Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre
Matching alloy spare wheel
Locking wheel nut
Limited Slip Differential


355 x 32mm cross drilled ventilated front rotors with Brembo 6 piston calipers & 328 x 26mm cross drilled ventilated rear rotors with single red piston caliper


FPV build number badge with unique model identifier
Unique FPV Starter Button
Human Machine Interface (HMI) with Internal Command Centre (IC)
High series mixed mode colour screen
Blue dial illumination with white LCD and FPV welcome message on start up
Speedometer (260kph)
Tachometer (8000rpm)
Audible shift alert indicator – man only
CFC-free Air conditioning – dual zone
FPV floor mats
FPV scuff plates (front only)
Sports leather steering wheel
with cruise control and audio switches
Alloy pedal covers


FPV performance sports seats Silverstone cloth with Ebony Lux suede bolsters with Super Pursuit logo embroidery
Nudo Leather with Miller suede bolsters with GT-P/Super Pursuit logo embroidery NCO
4 way power driver’s seat
Adjustable driver’s and passenger’s seat lumbar support


Premium audio system with 7″ colour display and 6-disc in-dash CD with iPod® integration
Bluetooth® mobile phone integration
Auxilliary Audio plug-in (MP3 capability)
Satellite Navigation system (optional)


FPV oval badge on front grille & rear
FPV fender feature badge

FPV model badging on tailgate
Boss power bulge on hood
FPV stripe package (incl hood decal) NCO
Boss hood decal (stand alone) NCO
Side fender turn indicators
FPV exhaust – twin chrome tail pipes
FPV “power bulge” hard tonneau with spoiler
Machine-faced alloy wheels with Dark Argent accents
Bumper accent detail – Dark or Mid Argent


Driver and front passenger airbags
Front seat side head/thorax airbags
Beltminderâ„¢ (front driver’s side only)
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
Traction Control System (TCS)
PV ID Datadot identification

Words Ben Dillon, photos Adam Croy