RE: Driven: Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo

RE: Driven: Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo

Friday 16th March 2012

Driven: Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo

A Vauxhall in badge only, Holden's barely anglicised ute is as raw, pointless and brilliant as ever



There are not many cars that can truly draw the attention of the Beautiful People who meander along the seafront at Cannes. Lamborghinis? They see loads of 'em. Classic Ferraris? Rien especial. Porsches? Deja vu, mon ami.

It's a brute of a ute, mate (etc)
It's a brute of a ute, mate (etc)
A bright yellow pick-up with huge alloys, a rear cargo shelf like the deck of container ship and a rumbling V8 exhaust note, on the other hand, gathers quite a crowd. Well, we say a pick-up - that's probably an inappropriate description of the Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo, as it evokes a jacked-up 4x4-esque commercial vehicle.

"Strewth mate, that's a beaut ute!" called out a wandering Australian tourist. Or would have done had we seen any Australian tourists or, indeed, if Aussies actually spoke in such stereotyped tones. Which we didn't. And they don't. But our imaginary friend got one thing right - the Maloo is not a pick-up, it's a ute. (Riggers, we need to talk... - Ed) And by ute we mean a car-based vehicle with a flat rear deck and no real off-roader aspirations. Call it a pick-up car as opposed to a pick-up truck.

Knuckle dragging Aussie on the Riviera
Knuckle dragging Aussie on the Riviera
Culture clash
Other countries have made such things - the Subaru Brat, VW Caddy and Ford Sierra-based P100 being prime examples. Australians, though, have made the ute concept their own, the term first being applied to a Ford in the early 30s and to arch-rival Holden a couple of years later. And it's a rivalry that continues to this day, with Ford and Holden battling one another in the hugely popular Ute racing series that supports the V8 Supercars.

The road-car equivalents slug it out on the road too, and this Maloo is the latest GM offering from Holden Special Vehicles. And, laying down some rubber for Monkey in his Boxster, Vauxhall has chosen a road trip from Cannes, up the famous Route Napoleon to the Geneva motor show to display its talents to us. Jolly nice of 'em.

Turns more heads than a supercar
Turns more heads than a supercar
Maloos have been around for some time in Holden guise and this 'E3' is based largely on the Commodore R8 saloon (E3 being the latest version), known in the UK as the Vauxhall VXR8, driven on the same roads by our man Towler this time last year. Hence the Vauxhall badges that replace the Holden ones everywhere except on the steering wheel boss - you can order this car now from Vauxhall as the VXR8 Maloo for the princely sum of 51,500.

Strewth mate, etc
What you get for that is essentially a two-seat version of the VXR8 saloon, but with a truly massive load bay (excellent for transporting masses of animal carcasses for the next barbie, we presume) instead of the usual rear seats and doors. You also have to make do without the four-door's magnetorheological dampers. The result is a weight reduction over the saloon of around 60kg, but identical performance (0-62mph in 4.9 seconds) as the lack of weight over the rear wheels limits traction somewhat in extremis.

Not so much weight over the rear wheels...
Not so much weight over the rear wheels...
Potential traction issues and genuinely horrific over-the-shoulder visibility aside, the driving experience is pure latest-gen VXR8. Which means prodigious but lazy performance from the 431hp LS3 V8 - you have to work it to make it go hard, but when it does, boy, does it shift. It also means a short-throw, meaty gearshift in six-speed manual guise that, combined with the somewhat abrupt clutch, can make quick, smooth gearchanges quite a challenge to achieve.

The cabin ambience will be familiar to those few VXR8 saloon owners who bought the version introduced last year so that's around 35 of you I'm talking to - though hundreds of early LS2 and LS3 VXR8s were sold, the combination of a 50K price and ever-rising fuel costs means the big Vauxhall isn't as popular as it once was. So there are squishily supportive seats, an infotainment system that can measure all sorts of dynamic telemetry (and can be downloaded for showing off at a later date) and a dashboard design that doesn't quite match up to European super-saloon expectations, either in concept or execution.

No frills in here, as you'd expect
No frills in here, as you'd expect
You wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else
Actually, that dash seems less of an issue in the Maloo - haute couture it ain't, but then you're probably not into that sort of thing if this sort of car is on your shopping list.

The familiarity of experience continues when you get out on to a quiet, windy road and the Route Napoleon has plenty of those around it. There might not be a great deal of weight over the rear wheels, but it doesn't present a problem - unless you are driving like a nutter there's more than enough traction. If anything, the lighter, looser rear end makes for a more involving experience, and you really don't miss the veneer of sophistication - and let's be honest it is a veneer with cars like this - that the magnetic ride brings to things.

In fact, Gargantuan size, wrong-hand drive (on the continent, at least) and pretty dire visibility are the only things that hamper your progress up mountain roads. The engine and brakes are strong, the steering is direct (if a little light) and the Maloo is far more keen to change direction than something of its size has any right to be.

Perfect for hauling beer and meat to the barbie
Perfect for hauling beer and meat to the barbie
Aussie rules
Perhaps predictably, then, the Maloo is quite a hoot. Although it is also an oddly civilised one - sit inside that cockpit cruising gently along a motorway at next-to-no revs and you could honestly forget that you were driving anything particularly out of the ordinary. But wind up that lazy V8 and you soon remember that the Maloo is something a bit special. Take a glance at it over your shoulder as you leave it parked, and you'll never forget it, a five-metre pick-up with 20-inch alloys will kind of do that to you.

ย 



Engine: 6,162cc V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual or auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 431@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 406@4,600rpm
0-62mph: 4.9 sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight (EC): 1,831 kg
MPG: 21mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 329g/km
Price: 51,500








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Author
Discussion

BuzzLightyear

Original Poster:

1,426 posts

148 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
The term "left-field" might have been invented for this, in the UK at least.

Over 50k!!! Really can't see them selling many of these unless someone wants one purely for show.

The VXR8 saloon - well, you could make a case for it being a less expensive alternative to an M5 or E63 as far as purchase price is concerned, but the ute? Erm, no. Don't think so...
smile

WCZ

8,535 posts

160 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
the perfect company car, IIRC it's taxed as a van.

Crusoe

3,890 posts

197 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Felicia Fun anyone?

s_zigmond

1,013 posts

152 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
I wish they would bring the estate over

Hellbound

2,415 posts

142 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Fantastic thing, although it only really makes sense as a promotional vehicle. Having said that, unless my business was automotive related, I'd feel like a dick with this parked outside. Especially whilst taking stuff out of the back.

A Liquid Propane Injection (similar to LPG) system is available as an option, which may help lower the running costs.

thejudderman

71 posts

137 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Hate the wheels and the exhausts look tiny for some reason.... but everything else is brilliantly pointless. Love it.

bobskii

14,048 posts

175 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
I'm sorry, but I need one of those in my life.

It is pointlessly fantastic!

thumbup

LuS1fer

37,694 posts

211 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Horrific wheels, hammer needed for the DRLs, looks a bit like a grown-up Renault Wind from the back. I see no real point in it when you can have a VXR8 and commercial vehicles over 50k are pretty niche. wink

Additionally, our local tip charges any pickups 25 to dump stuff.

Edited by LuS1fer on Friday 16th March 12:10

BigTom85

1,908 posts

137 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Crusoe said:
Felicia Fun anyone?
Never before in the history have PH has a car comparison been so wide of the mark.

Vauxhall have certainly got their moneys worth from that numberplate, 11 years they've been putting it on promo cars!!


Devil2575

13,400 posts

154 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Hellbound said:
A Liquid Propane Injection (similar to LPG)
Liquid propane is an LPG although the stuff sold in the UK is normally a mix of both propane and butane.

Dagnut

3,515 posts

159 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
My mate had one of these,older model..never driven anything as tail happy....... crazy to drive

Blown2CV

24,868 posts

169 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
50-grand ladies and gents

FIFTY GRAND

martin mrt

3,465 posts

167 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Fabulous thing, screw the 50k price tag, it's a 430bhp V8 ute, a fabulous combination

DanDC5

16,280 posts

133 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
I want one yesterday.

Sivraj

256 posts

157 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Exactly what I'm looking for!...hehe
I need to move 4 concrete flag stones from Plymouth to Newcastle twice a week and use as much fuel as possible while doing it!...
I'll take it thumbup

Wafflesmk2

1,347 posts

120 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
I see DE51RED is still doing the VX rounds biggrin

Glyn84

664 posts

146 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
Blown2CV said:
50-grand ladies and gents

FIFTY GRAND
50 grand well spent if you ask me!

I just need 50 grand...

Steamer

12,472 posts

179 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
WCZ said:
the perfect company car, IIRC it's taxed as a van.
Also (and forgive me if I missed it in the article because I'm supposed to be working) Does that mean its 50K inc VAT? - so that element could be claimed back... which then puts it in a rather interesting price bracket.

crashley

1,529 posts

146 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
I wonder if you could squeeze a motorbike on the back....

Devil2575

13,400 posts

154 months

Friday 16th March 2012
quotequote all
I wonder how many people would actually buy one with their 50k...

Not many I suspect.