The Holden Utester – shown at this week’s Melbourne Motor Show
Following on from its resoundingly successful Monaro coupe – due for production later this year – Holden may soon have another showcar-to-showroom story to tell with its stunning Utester, writes Dave Moore.

The name is the only less than cohesive element about the new Holden ‘ute’ (utility or light pickup truck), shown at this week’s Melbourne Motor Show.

The unique Utester sports coupe concept is, as the name implies, a vivid evolution of the Holden ute theme – created by young designers and loaded with ‘urban cool’.

Finished in bright yellow with contrasting black accents, the Utester has a removable glass roof, a rear window that slides out of sight and a tonneau cover with twin aero forms that echo traditional sports car styling cues. The 19-inch, five-spoke satin finish alloy wheels, smoke-tinted roof, split twin exhausts and custom-designed cabin are also intended to excite the eye.

The Utester has a custom-designed cabin

Like the Sandman panel van that was such a crowd-puller at the Detroit Motor Show in January, the Utester began life as a series of sketches penned by a member of Holden’s youthful and talented design team.

Inspired by the Roadster and Speedster tags given to other sports-oriented General Motors models, senior designer Peter Hughes also gave the Utester its unique and rather awkward name.

“It was an attention-grabber from the start, not least because we could see it had the potential to become a niche production vehicle,” says Holden executive in charge of design, Michael Simcoe.

“While this model is a one-off show special, there’s a reasonable chance that it could appear in Holden dealer showrooms, pending the result of a feasibility study currently under way.

“If that happens, it will become the only production vehicle of its kind anywhere in the world,” he said.

The bold exterior colour scheme is echoed inside with black leather seats edged with yellow leather ‘baseball mitt’ stitching.

The high-gloss, body-coloured loadspace cover is a lockable split fold design with remote release

The Utester’s instrument panel and steering wheel are also finished in black leather and the controls and instrumentation feature satin finish silver detailing.

Equipment includes an Alpine audio-video system with DVD, VCD and CD, LCD monitor, remote control, 12-inch sub-woofer, eight additional speakers and flip-down storage between the seats. Brake, clutch and accelerator pedals are machined aluminium.

Unusually for a concept, the vehicle is quite practical. The high-gloss, body-coloured loadspace cover is a lockable split fold design with remote release.

The front section, finished in matching yellow, opens to accommodate the removable glass roof, and the cargo bed takes a full-length load.

Powered by an American-made 5.7 litre 225 kW GEN III alloy V8 engine matched to 6-speed manual transmission, the Utester is an evolution of Holden’s all-new Commodore pickup range, launched in Australia last year.

Author: Dave Moore is motoring editor of the Press newspaper in Christchurch, New Zealand.