THE war for the hearts, minds and wallets of cashed-up tradies Australia-wide has started. The first TV ad for the HSV SportsCat – the first of a number of enhanced dual-cab trade ute-based ‘brodozers’ to launch this year – has aired on television.
The HSV SportsCat, priced from $60,790 for the regular SportsCat and $66,790 for the SportsCat+, represents HSV’s most radical change in the performance brand’s 30-year history. After years of fettling high-performance versions of the Holden Commodore – let history condemn versions of the Isuzu-sourced Jackeroo, Nissan Pulsar-based Astra and badge-engineered Opel Astra VXR that also wore the badge – it’s the first model that shows just how much the landscape has changed for the company.
Not surprisingly, the ad aims directly at the cashed-up tradie; the former labourer now worksite boss who has made good and wants to show it. Powerful boats, Apple smart watches, big stamina and designer facial hair all feature prominently in the ad.
The HSV SportsCat – it differs from the four-cylinder turbo-diesel Holden Colorado on which it is based via a number of off-road tuning enhancements, but gains no extra under-bonnet poke – will soon have a bit of keen competition on its hands.
Next month, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the world’s first entrant into the luxury dual-cab trade ute segment, will launch with promising enhanced dynamic ability via coil-based rear suspension system that replaces the traditional load-bearing leaf springs used on most less-luxurious rivals. A more powerful diesel V6 version of the X-Class arrives before the end of the year.
But the big one will be the arrival of the Ford Ranger Raptor, a twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel version of the Australian designed and engineered workhorse that’s also due here by the end of the year. It cedes some of the workmanlike ability of the Ranger ute, but like the HSV SportsCat promises enhanced off-road ability.
Toyota will join the fray in April with a trio of ruggedly named versions of its Hilux dual-cab ute, described as ‘halo’ models taking inspiration from the locally developed 2016 Tonka concept. However, these models are targeting off-road enthusiasts rather than buyers looking for serious performance bent.