Vauxhall Maloo LSA: Driven


The memo about downsizing clearly didn't reach Holden's engineers when they were deciding on the spec for its run-out last hurrah for the Maloo. Instead, this R8 version has beefed up its 6.2-litre supercharged V8 with more power to take it to 544hp.

Pick ups are Isuzus in the UK; not in Australia!
Pick ups are Isuzus in the UK; not in Australia!
Not only does this make the R8 Maloo LSA the most powerful commercial vehicle on sale in the UK, it sends it from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and on to 155mph. Not bad for something you can sling as much of Ikea's finest in the back of without having to juggle it around.

To put that power in perspective, it's up by 113hp over the previous Vauxhall-badged Maloo thanks to a new high-flow exhaust system with bi-modal function. There's also an improved water-to-air charge cooler for the four-lobe Eaton supercharger, and a handy by-product of all this is an increase in torque to 495lb ft.

In a bid to make the most of this considerable power, there's a limited slip differential and revised, stiffer spring and damper rates. The rear suspension has also been strengthened to give better rigidity, which Vauxhall says delivers better braking efficiency.

You can buy a McLaren with less power than this!
You can buy a McLaren with less power than this!
With relatively little weight over the rear wheels, spinning up the back tyres is a routine occurrence, so to avoid some of this the car LSA with the six-speed manual gearbox has a standard Launch Control mode. The six-cog automatic does without this, but few of the small band of UK buyers choose this over the manual.

Completing this final run model is a new splitter on the front bumper and black bonnet vents. Inside, the infotainment screen now operates standard sat-nav and there's Bluetooth included, too. Even so, it's hard to sit in the Maloo's big, comfy chairs and reconcile your surroundings with the £66,500 price tag. It all looks very last generation Insignia.

From the driver's seat, you'll note the rear-view mirror gives an excellent view of the load bay cover. This twin-humped device is said to assist with aerodynamics, but it just obscures your view. Popping it open is easily done from the key fob, but shutting it needs a fair bit of muscle to counter the gas struts and some heft so it latches properly.

What do you need to know about this? Manual
What do you need to know about this? Manual
All of this is forgiven when you fire up the engine. It starts with a chesty V8 burble. This long-lived Chevrolet-derived motor is one of the most numerous in automotive history. An exploratory prod of the throttle results in a crispy crackle on the overrun, so it all bodes well.

Moving off is no bother at low speeds and the gearbox and clutch are light enough to make town driving simple. However, the shift from first to second needs your full attention to avoid a bit of shunt through the driveline that, again, makes you ponder that £66,500 asking price.

Once the opportunity to stretch the V8 comes, the improvements to the engine are quickly and clearly obvious. It picks up from 1,000rpm in any gear in way that only a big capacity motor can. So, you can leave the Maloo in a higher gear and surf along on or you can drop a gear or two to feel the full force of its 544hp.

This is what we meant about 'very little weight'
This is what we meant about 'very little weight'
On a typical British A-road, you only need third and fourth to make very swift progress. Overtaking is a doddle and the suspension has more than enough give to deal with most potholes. Throw in some mid-corner ruts, though, and the chassis soon begins to show its limitations. There's no lurching, it's just the 1,869kg Maloo feels its weight and begins to bob about on its springs.

This is not to say the R8 is a mere dragster. It has decent feel through the steering and it runs into gentle understeer long before the rear tyres start to slide into oversteer. Of course, it's easy to provoke the back end in slower corners to step out, even with the traction control well and truly switched on, and this is a considerable part of the LSA's appeal at every roundabout. When the fun needs to end, the 367mm front and 372mm rear vented disc brakes perform without drama or fade.

Yet, the Maloo doesn't add up to a sports car. It's still very much a 'ute with a great big supercharged V8 motor, and we're pleased it exists in this form because it sticks up two fingers to the current tide of thinking. However, for this sort of money, there are just too many other far more able saloons and estates on offer, or for around half the price you could have a Ford Mustang.


VAUXHALL VXR8 MALOO
Engine
: 6,162cc, supercharged V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 557@6,150rpm
Torque (lb ft): 495@4,200rpm
0-60mph: 4.3secs
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,869kg (kerb)
MPG: 18.5 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 363g/km
Price: £66,500

 

 

 

 

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Comments (22) Join the discussion on the forum

  • ManyMotors 13 Jul 2017

    An "LS" anything is nearly always a thrill - try one if you can. The issue is getting the power to the ground.

  • HappyMidget 13 Jul 2017

    ManyMotors said:
    An "LS" anything is nearly always a thrill - try one if you can. The issue is getting the power to the ground.
    Fairly easy on these as they have near 50/50 weight distribution, Launch control on the manuals helps a lot.

    For not a lot of outlay you can do some good stuff with the LSA. My VXR8 runs 838BHP on BP Ultimate biggrin

  • GTEYE 13 Jul 2017

    I like the fact that they put Vauxhall badges on the outside, but didn't bother changing the Holden badge on the steering wheel....

    I don't know why they didn't just leave it entirely branded Holden...

  • HappyMidget 13 Jul 2017

    GTEYE said:
    I like the fact that they put Vauxhall badges on the outside, but didn't bother changing the Holden badge on the steering wheel....

    I don't know why they didn't just leave it entirely branded Holden...
    I read that to change the steering wheel badge would mean they would have to do a full crash safety test, the rest of the badges are stuck on by the VX dealer when in country. You can ask them to just stick on HSV badges if you want.

  • eldar 13 Jul 2017

    Superbly lunatic. But £65,000!

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