Killa Kustom Kables & Conversions set the 4x4 ute market on fire last year when it introduced its LS3-powered Killarado.
Since that first conversion, which we featured back in May 2017, the Queensland workshop has been flat out building V8 Colorados for customers, with a few supercharged LSA-powered rigs in there for good measure.
Melbourne’s long-standing church of all things high performance, Harrop Engineering, teamed up with Killa Kustoms to become the southern states dealer and has put its own spin on the conversion. It has taken the V8 Colorado to the next level and developed the car with two different identities – one for off-road use and one with a more urban slant.
The urban version rides on 20-inch wheels, all-terrain tyres and its Shockworks-developed suspension rides stiffer for better handling. But it’s the off-road one we’re most interested in, with its 18-inch Method wheels, Toyo R/T rubber and more compliant suspension.
Harrop has dubbed the supercharged beast the Superado and they threw us the keys to have a play with it.
Arriving at Harrop to pick up the Superado in our bone-stock Colorado LTZ, one could be forgiven for thinking the Superado is just another kitted-up double-cab ute. Sure, those bright-red Methods stand out from the flared guards, and the ride height is up there, but without even a nudge bar on the front end, this could be any other sign-written shop truck.
Open the door and the leather-trimmed sports seats are a nice addition and the extra switches in the console indicate there’s an ELocker in there somewhere, but otherwise it’s just like our LTZ.
All similarities end when you turn the ignition key. There’s no clatter from an Italian-made Duramax diesel in this Holden ute; it’s all American V8 rumble from the dual pipes exiting under the back!
Harrop Performance Centre used the Killa Kustoms conversion as the basis for its build and fitted a 6.2-litre LS3 V8. If that wasn’t enough, it topped the engine with a Harrop-Eaton TVS2650 supercharger – the biggest and most efficient supercharger in the range.
Originally developed for V8-powered HSV and Holden Commodores, the supercharged V8 was easily adapted to the Holden 4x4 ute. In fact, the LS3 looks like more of a natural fit in the engine bay than the 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel, with less underbonnet clutter and lines. There’s still space in there for a second battery, and the big air-cleaner box made by Killa Kustoms looks well-suited to dusty conditions.
The GM engine is backed by a GM 6L80 six-speed auto, while the factory Colorado diffs have been retained – the front one fitted with a Harrop ELocker for better off-road performance. The transmission used in this car came from one of Harrop’s go-fast Commodores and is beefed up with heavy duty internals. It works nicely with the factory Colorado gear shifter.
Harrop will be offering the V8 conversion in a few different forms including a naturally aspirated LS3 crate engine, an LS3 with a TVS supercharger, an LSA, or an LSA with the factory supercharger replaced by the TVS2650. The last combo will be the most powerful, as the LSA is made to be supercharged with a lower compression ratio but it will get more grunt with the bigger 2650 supercharger.
Then there are the vehicle options, and, being Harrop’s own truck, this vehicle is loaded with them. Behind those Method wheels is Harrop’s 355mm brake package with their own monoblock calipers plumbed through braided steel lines.
The suspension was set up by Shockworks using its in-house-developed remote reservoir shock absorbers and custom springs. It offers just enough lift to clear the 285/65-18 Toyo Open Country R/T tyres. Incidentally, the 18-inch Method wheels clear the big brake package, but the factory Holden 18-inch alloys will not.
If you look past the bright red wheels and decals, the body is pretty much stock, even the OE front bumper remains. Wheel arch flares are fitted to cover the tyres, some sturdy steel side-steps ride down the flanks, a ZR2 bonnet bulge is fitted, a Rhino Rack platform is mounted up top, and the factory sports bar and badges have been given the blackout treatment.
It all comes together in an eye-catching package, but it’s the sound and feel that really leave the biggest impression.
Stock builds may not apply on Custom 4x4 reviews
ON THE ROAD
THE first impressions of driving the Superado were of the sweet engine rumble and how factory it all feels. Everything still works as it does in our stock LTZ including cruise control, the hill start assist function and safety features. Plant your right foot, however, and there’s nothing OE about it!
The sound and acceleration are sensational as the Superado blasts through first gear and the 6L80 slams into second before you have to back off. This car is a lot of fun on the street and would scare a lot of fast sedans off from the lights.
The brakes felt precise and the suspension firm as we left town. The suspension tied the high-riding 4x4 ute down as it cornered flat through the tight, twisty bends that wind up into the hills. Still you needed to be careful as you applied power to the wet roads and the off-road oriented Toyos tried their best to harness the abundant torque.
Again, it’s a fun drive, but we remained cautious on the wet mountain roads. Opening it up on a straight and the supercharger whined, stuffing the V8 full of fresh mountain air as the dual exhausts bellowed off the surrounding hills. It’s an aural delight!
Leaving the blacktop behind, the bends opened up as we hit the gravel and we’re able to push the engine a bit more. Selecting high range 4x4 helped with traction, but there was no taming all that grunt.
The well-used forest road is heavily corrugated and the suspension setup proved too firm for the conditions, rattling the cargo and the occupants. The dampeners are adjustable and Brett from Shockworks says they will look at the calibration for future use.
As the mud turned to snow we engaged low range and the front ELocker to keep progressing forward. You only needed to squeeze the throttle down to have the tyres spinning and the Superado rocketing ahead.
All this fun and performance comes at a cost, and it’s not just the expense of fitting the conversion (see prices and options below). The Superado slurps through PULP at more than twice the rate of our diesel Colorado, and the gauge soon told us the stock fuel tank was getting low. A larger aftermarket fuel tank would be a must for the Superado, especially if you want to head out of town with it.
And why wouldn’t you want to? The V8 Superado is the double-cab 4x4 ute we all want, if you desire better performance than any of the small diesels can product. It’s a unique vehicle and the Harrop conversion is an OE factory quality, fit and finish.
We’re not sure how many people will go the whole hog with all the equipment fitted to this vehicle, but even a stock LS3 in one of these would make it a weapon of choice.
|Powertrain||$ inc. GST|
|LS3 Spec: LS3 NA with 6L80 Auto||$37,830|
|LSA Spec: LSA 1900 SC with 6L80 Auto||$43,270|
|Superado Spec : LSA 2650 SC with 6L80 Auto||$44,820|
|Optional 3-Year Driveline Warranty||$2970|
|Options / Upgrades||$ inc. GST|
|1-7/8” Headers/Hi-Flow Cats||$1150|
|Black Ceramic Coating (Headers/Cats only)||$495|
|Cat-back Exhaust 3” – Bi-Modal||$2802|
|Harrop Brake Upgrade – Front||$4400|
|Harrop Front ELocker||$2573|
|Harrop Rear ELocker||$2353|
|Method 18x9 (Set of 4) from||$2350|
|Method 20x9 (Set of 4) from||$2350|
|Toyo 285/65/18 Open Country R/T||$1800|
|Toyo 285/50/20 Open Country AT2||$1700|
|Shockworks Suspension Kit||$3022|
|Rhino Roof Rack||$1529|