Holden Ute Omega LPG - Uteous Gaseous
There are two basic types of pick-up trucks: those built from scratch to be utes, often related to heavy-duty „workhorses” rather than passenger cars, and those being light-duty utility versions of regular „people carriers”. European markets are dominated by pick-ups of the latter type, while in Australia and the US the former are popular. In fact, there are utes based on passenger models Down Under and stateside, but they are considered passenger cars, too (only able to haul a boatload of cargo) rather than vehicles shedding blood, sweat and tears in the course of hard work. Anyway, the Holden Ute Omega is one of the „civilian” pick-ups, equally suitable for going to the opera as for carrying farm produce.
Even though it is derived from a popular sedan, the Ute seems more harsh, as if less refined than the model that served as its basis. At least this is the first impression, which improves – at least partially – the more you get to know it. Suspension is stiff, the driving wheel is huge, as if it came from a bus, the cabin suffers from some functional flaws (wing mirrors are too small and power operated from the centre console, as are power windows; plus, the handbrake lever might be fancy, but is not very handy) and the spare wheel, replaced by an LPG tank, has been moved to the cargo space, limiting it. Let us call it compromise.
The Holden proves amiable in the long run, as suspension turns out to be taken from a passenger car rather than a truck after all, steering is precise and offers good feedback and brakes translate pedal pressure into braking force really well. The 3,6-litre, V6 engine, factory converted to run on LPG with a tailor-made, Holden-approved sequential injection LPG system, provides more than satisfactory performance (245 PS of power and 320 Nm of torque) and, considering the car's size, consumes acceptable amounts of gaseous fuel. With two people and a motorcycle onboard, the Ute Omega LPG needed 11,7 l/100 km on average. Obviously, it burns less when driving on petrol (9,6 l/100 km), but since autogas is substantially cheaper, running the car on LPG still saves the driver in excess of 40 per cent of fuel costs.
Too bad the Ute Omega is so expensive. Compared to similarly equipped Ford Falcon Ute EcoLPi, its major market rival, the Uteous Gaseous is by 3830, or some 10 per cent, more expensive. Truth be told, the Holden is far prettier (the pick-up Falcon, with its bodywork „chopped off” right behind the front doors, looks like the infamous FSO Polonez Truck, probably best known outside Poland for Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson's stunt, who dropped the car from a substantial height onto concrete to see if it was as durable as the Toyota Hilux), but if you value funcionality over looks and wish to carry bags of cement, not cruise around, you are bound to think twice before spending money on GM's offering. Plus, the Ford has a liquid state LPG injection system and even though its load capacity is lower (540 kg versus Holden's 822), it can haul a heavier trailer (2300 versus 1600 kg). Having a hard time making your choice? Unless you are Australian, you do not really need to make it.
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