Holden is set to maintain its leadership of the ute and light commercial vehicle markets with the release of substantially upgraded versions of its top-selling Ute.
Holden’s Executive Director, Marketing, Ross McKenzie, said the upgraded 2004 VZ series would further boost the popularity of Australia’s number one light commercial range, which continued to sustain a record-breaking sales run.
"There’s no secret to our success in this area. It’s a matter of listening to your customers and giving them what they want, which in essence means you offer a wider range of options to meet diverse needs and you present them better than anybody else," Mr McKenzie said.
"The Ute is a very smart workhorse - more like a two-door sports car with plenty of space to carry your gear."
"Car-based Holden light commercials have always been competitor-leading in terms of load carrying ability, chassis dynamics, refinement and choice of body styles. Now with this great new Alloytec V6 powertrain and a raft of new features - and with price increases kept to a minimum - they will come on even stronger," Mr McKenzie concluded.
Like their sedan counterparts, the 2004 VZ Ute is set apart by distinctive front end styling, characterised by new grille treatments, more compact headlamps and deep facias integrated with a dynamic new bonnet form. The Gen III V8-powered Ute SS models sport smart chrome fender vents and projector headlamps.
Alloytec V6 Powertrain
All six-cylinder Holden Crewman, One Tonner and Ute models offer a new generation, high-feature 3.6 litre Alloytec V6 engine that improves load-carrying ability by making more usable torque available across the entire rev range.
More powerful than the previous 3.8 litre 152kW ECOTEC V6, the lightweight, fuel-efficient 235 hp Alloytec V6 operates with advanced double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Holden believes that it will help to set new Australian standards for V6 light commercial performance, reliability and durability.
The Alloytec V6 combines with a new six-speed manual transmission (to be introduced in November) and an upgraded four-speed automatic transmission. On the One Tonner and Crewman, load-pulling peak torque of 236 lb/ft is delivered at just 2400 rpm (Ute 2800 rpm) and peak power for all is 235 hp at 6000 rpm. Ninety per cent of torque is available between 1630 and 5460 rpm, thanks to the application of advanced technologies like continuously variable cam phasing, which constantly optimises camshaft position.
Among other major contributors to improved performance, operating refinement and durability are a lightweight alloy cylinder block, forged steel crankshaft, piston cooling jets, a powerful micro-hybrid engine control unit that facilitates faster data flow, electronic throttle control, coil-on-plug ignition and a long-life new exhaust system with cast-iron manifolds and dual close-coupled catalytic converters for emissions reduction.
The VZ series brings a manual transmission for the first time to the V6-powered Crewman and One Tonner models. This quick-shifting six-speed transmission will become available in November and it replaces the five-speed manual formerly specified in the Holden Ute. It combines with a larger, heavy-duty clutch which has been designed to complement the torque character of the new engine and now allows a 1600 kg maximum towing capacity, 30 per cent more than the superseded five-speed manual Ute’s 1200 kg capacity.
Upgrades to the four-speed automatic transmission, including fitment of an advanced controlling module and torque converter refinements, enhance launch feel and shift consistency.
Holden’s V8-powered VZ series light commercials also benefit from the inclusion of electronic throttle control and upgrades to the 5.7 litre Gen III engine management system and powertrains which improve performance and ensure that they retain their characteristic brand of driving excitement.
The Ute SS now produces 335 hp of power and 347 lb/ft of torque and has a twin exhaust system and tailpipes.
Holden chassis engineers invested years of development work and hundreds of thousands of test kilometres in making certain that the latest versions of Australia’s best-handling light commercial load-carriers retained their reputation for ’driver’s car’ chassis dynamics and passenger car ride comfort.
The inherent torsional rigidity of the unique torque arm system that links chassis to cabin on Holden Ute’s competitor-leading Control Link independent rear suspension are complemented by refinements to suspension, steering and braking systems.
Steering has a more direct feel off-centre and Alloytec V6-powered models are fitted with the latest-generation Bosch ABS system and a new brake booster and master cylinder, which help optimise stopping distance with faster, surer braking. ABS-equipped models also have a Brake Assist feature, which senses how hard and fast a driver hits the brake pedal and give extra braking assistance if required. In addition, they offer Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, (EBD), which controls rear brake pressure under all load conditions and road surfaces.
The 2004 Ute and One Tonner share strong new VZ design themes that accentuate width across the front and give them an even more assertive road presence.
Textured mesh inserts in the larger air intake openings differ between model levels and combine with cues like specific bumper facias and contrasting headlamp bezels - black for performance models, jewelled for others - which help give each its own identity.
The entry level Ute now feature richer, body-coloured paint treatments, headlamps with silver chrome bezels and larger grille openings with cross-hatched textured mesh inserts.
The Ute S have specific deeper-set front facias, new body-coloured side mouldings and rear bumperettes. A new sports mesh interior trim fabric, Sonic, is available on One Tonner S, Crewman S and all Ute models.
The Ute SS are further distinguished by striking fender vents, twin horizontal ’optic fibre’ parking lamp treatments and fog lamps.