• Powerful, flexible engine; brilliant automatic gearbox; exceptional ride and handling; much improved interior; great noise
  • Poor rear, over-shoulder vision; low front bumper risks scraping; hard tonneau cover limits tray use

9 / 10

HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review

Performance utes such as the HSV Maloo R8 are a quintessentially Australian beast. Up there with Vegemite and Aussie rules football, people not from our great land often can’t quite understand our local passion for them.

With the new Gen-F version now unleashed, though, it might just prove to be the perfect conduit.

At $68,290 the HSV Maloo R8 is the flagship ute in Holden Special Vehicle’s range. Cheaper than the model it replaces by $210, it’s also $9300 more than the standard Maloo.

With our Sting red test car fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission ($2000) and the exclusive ‘R8 SV Enhanced’ package ($4995), the total rises to $75,285.

For the extra spend, the SV pack adds 20-inch Satin Graphite SV Performance forged alloy wheels, black plastic fender vents and black side mirror caps. It also boosts power and torque of the R8’s already uprated 325kW/550Nm naturally aspirated 6.2-litre ‘LS3’ V8 by 15kW and 20Nm thanks to a new bi-modal air intake.

That means the rear-wheel-drive ute gets a total output of 340kW at 6100rpm and 570Nm at 4650rpm. That’s more than the supercharged FPV Pursuit Ute, and V8 performance car greats such as the BMW M3 and Audi R8.

Much of the Maloo R8’s standard equipment is shared with the base 317kW/550Nm Maloo, including front and rear parking sensors, automatic park assist, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, blind spot assist and an electric park brake. Cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a six-speaker audio system with USB/AUX inputs and iPod integration are also common to both.

HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review

The same eight-inch, high-resolution touchscreen seen in the Holden VF Commodore also joins the list. Coming with Holden’s MyLink infotainment system, it integrates satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, and the display for the standard reversing camera.

Additionally the new R8 gains a head-up display, lane departure warning, forward collision alert and rain-sensing wipers, as well as a remote-locking hard tonneau cover and HSV performance sail plane.

The R8’s Electronic Driver Interface (EDI) is carried over from the preceding model, now displaying interactive mapping for the bi-modal exhaust, bi-modal air intake and stability control functions via an app on the MyLink system. While providing entertaining and interesting information, the EDI app’s lower resolution looks poor compared with the rest of the MyLink graphics.

As good as the previous VE-based E Series Maloo R8 was – and it was very good –the latest HSV Maloo R8 marks the biggest milestone in the utility’s almost 23-year history.

Based on the upgraded Holden VF Commodore platform, the new Gen-F range of HSVs were developed by the Melbourne-based firm alongside Holden – in a first for both brands – rather than being transformed into HSV products after the Commodore’s completion.

HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review

Inside, the Gen-F Maloo R8 has clearly benefited from the huge leap forward already seen in the VF range.

Soft-touch materials on top of the instrument binnacle and on the gear lever work cohesively with suede and piano black inserts on the dash, doors and centre console. Harder plastics on the dash-top are offset by silver and carbonfibre-look trim highlights that combine for a sporty ambience that avoids being tacky.

What does feel somewhat aftermarket, however, is the twin oil pressure and battery voltage gauge pod located between the easy-to-use climate control dials and the centre console-mounted ‘R8’ model ID plate. Not soundly secured, the pod moves easily if poked or prodded and is accompanied by very Fast and Furious-style blue lighting.

The flat-bottom steering wheel is chunky in the hands – despite being dimensionally smaller than before – with well-defined thumb cut-outs that complement intelligently placed audio, phone and cruise control buttons.

There’s adequate space for backpacks and laptop bags behind the manually adjustable HSV-branded black leather and suede seats, as well as small, netted pockets. A lack of a quick-release mechanism common in two-door hatches, though, means drivers are forced to reset their driving position every time the rear space is accessed.

HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review

The HSV Maloo misses out, too, on the eight-way electrically adjustable driver and passenger seats standard on the Clubsport and Clubsport R8. Supportive and heavily bolstered, though, and with power-adjustable lumbar support, the seats still do a solid job of holding both driver and passenger in place, even when travelling at pace (an exceptionally easy thing to do in this vehicle).

From an initial bark on start-up, the V8 settles into a throbbing 600rpm idle. Though the raw figures of the unit are attractive, as is the deep, smirk-inducing growl emanated from the R8’s bi-modal quad-pipe exhaust, the engine’s sheer grunt and flexibility impresses the most.

Cruising around town at 60km/h, there’s very little need to see much above 2000rpm with the R8 happy to sit at about 1200rpm. A light squeeze of the throttle is all that’s required to complete overtaking manoeuvres.

Even at 80km/h the needle is rarely excited past 1500rpm. Driving like this returns fuel figures of about 13.4 litres per 100km, not far off the R8’s claimed 12.9L/100km (HSV claims 12.6L/100km for the manual).

Once the road clears and the revs rise, though, the Maloo R8 simply surges.

By 4000rpm the thrust is just as brutal as the exhaust note. While still very much linear in its delivery, the V8’s push is unwavering, not letting up until you either lift your right foot or hit the 6500rpm rev limit.

HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review

Driving this enthusiastically results in fuel figures of about 20.7L/100km – though our nearly 240km test loop, comprising varying road and traffic types, netted an average figure of 19.9L/100km.

Spirited driving also results, inevitably, in encouraging more of the same. Helping the cause is the Maloo’s excellent six-speed automatic gearbox. Thankfully employing Holden’s proven Active Select ‘Sport’ mode wizardry – seen in the VF Commodore and Holden Cruze SRi – the ‘box selects the correct gear at the correct time, again and again.

Equally confidence-inspiring are the R8’s AP brakes. Comprising 367mm ventilated discs and forged four-piston calipers (front and rear), the strong brakes, linked to a firm yet progressive pedal, continue to impress even after repeated heavy stops in the 1795kg Ute.

The electro-mechanical steering, too, is superb. Weighted slightly heavier than in the luxury-biased Holden VF Calais, it’s consistent from centre to full lock and remains sharp and accurate providing loads of feedback even when tackling corners of varying speeds and radii.

And it’s here that the apparently humble utility reveals its ultimate party trick: grip.

Working in tandem with the limited-slip differential, astonishing traction from the 255mm front/275mm rear 35-profile Continental tyres allows drivers to fully exploit the thumping V8 under the bonnet and take full advantage of HSV’s composed, compliant and well-balanced Performance suspension.

HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review

The Maloo R8 competently covers ground at pace without getting unsettled or knocked off-line by road imperfections of differing degrees. It stays flat over big undulations and rides more subtly than any car on 20-inch rims has any right to.

Road joins, potholes and cat eyes are still felt in the cabin and through the steering wheel but there is no shuddering through the body that can occur in some VF-based Holden sedans.

Even over wet, pockmarked roads the R8 is planted enough to be let off the lead via the Driver Preference Dial (DPD). Allowing adjustment of the stability and traction control systems, as well as influencing steering weight and the bi-modal exhaust, DPD offers three driver modes – ‘Tour’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Performance’ – to be selected at any given time. A launch control function is also included in the system but only accompanies manual transmission models.

It’s not all snags and slabs for the Maloo, though.

The Ute’s low ride height requires drivers to have patience and a basic understanding of trigonometry before tackling steep driveways and poor rear, and over the shoulder vision – due to the low seating position and performance sail plane – ensures reliance on the electronic driver aids are a must. Removal of the R8’s hard tonneau cover is also a two-person task.

HSV Maloo R8 Review
HSV Maloo R8 Review

HSV’s capped-price servicing program helps running costs, with the first four nine-month/15,000km scheduled services fixed at $220 per service – service costs thereafter are determined by individual dealers. Totalling $880 for the first 60,000km, the Maloo R8 comes in $1655 cheaper to service than the FPV Pursuit Ute over the same period (though the FPV includes one additional service).

Previous Maloos have already found a cult following in the UK – where some HSVs have become rebadged Vauxhalls – but other foreign countries, including the US, are missing out on an extraordinarily well-sorted performance option.

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  • Katman


  • Phil

    Why does HSV persist in putting those tacky gauges in – surely they could represent them digitally on the touchscreen via EDI app if they feel that warning lights in the cluster are insufficient. For 68 grand I’d want something that didn’t look like it came from the bargain bin at SupercheapAutobarn.

    • Poison_Eagle

      I agree about the gauges, they look like such an afterthought. Also, the more I see VF’s interior, the less cohesive it looks. Good quality materials but all the GM parts bin bits don’t gel.

      • Phil

        I think it’s too many materials being used – the design is good. The Evoke interior looks great to me, but this HSV has plastics, leather, suede, fake carbon fibre and chrome. It’s just too much. Plastics, contrasting leather, and a little chrome is all it needs to look and feel classy.

        HSV also need to dial back on sticking their badge everywhere there’s an inch of vacant space – the pics show it on the steering wheel, on the console, both headrests, and the touchscreen. And that’s just the interior! Overkill.

    • Sean

      The black piano finish is horrible, when you sit in the car you look at these and think did somebody just put them in, they are too large and too shiny, being slightly smaller and recessed would have been heaps better/

      • The Realist

        Everyone’s all of a sudden an expert in interior car design. Just listen to yourselves. You sound ridiculous.

        • Sean

          Well the finish is called piano – maybe I should have called it very polished shiny black for you :)

          Go sit in the car and you’ll see.

        • Ian M

          Surely not as ridiculous as the car sounds….

    • Smart US

      because you watching movie on the touch screen… and because your mate has to see gouges when there is a touch scream

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, a pointless cheap add on that in the sv6/ss is a great interior

  • crouchy35

    The cheap looking headlights have really let the VF range down… I guess the money had to run out somewhere

    • Sean

      I cant believe not HID yet either amazing

      • Robbo

        My thoughts too Sean, why the hell when Kia can offer HID’s standard on their mumsie SUV and you can get a kit for $300 do they not offer it standard on HSV at least? As someone who faces the dude who buys his HSV then adds his aftermarket kit with light splatter, we all get blinded. Thanks HSV, so much for innovation!! Maybe the engineers should visit a korean car dealership one day and see what features they offer!!! I’m sure a sooped up Holden ute can afford a little bit more kit for the spend.

  • Shak

    CA is there any reason that the Maloo doesnt get the electric seats that the rest of the models do?

    • Phil

      do the electric ones tilt forward to allow access to the storage area behind the seats? If not, there’s your answer 😉

      • Shak

        Thanks mate 😀

  • Jim

    They’re possibly the coolest car available on the market, I’m not sure how anyone could dislike them.

  • Karl Sass

    I can’t comprehend why anyone would want an auto in a car like this?

    • Shak

      I cant speak for the Maloo itself but after driving an auto SS it felt monumentally improved over the VE auto’s. I didnt really have much opportunity to test out the sport mode, but once in it, the car does seem to hold gears for longer and downshift just as you want the power so its a much more intelligent set up.

    • JamesB

      Holden sticks are rubbish. The notchy, hit-or-miss shift action is such a pain even manual lovers would hate it.

      • Karl Sass

        Yeah they’re not great, I’ve driven a few. But this is a balls to the wall V8 ute, who cares if the shift action is heavy and a bit slow. Although the VF manual is supposed to be a big improvement. Can’t beat the engagement a proper manual transmission offers.

      • Guest

        Yeah I’ve driven a few and they’re not great. But this is a V8 ute, the heavy and a bit slow action doesn’t matter as much. It’s supposed to be better in the VF though? A manual suits a V8 ute better and they’re much more engaging to drive IMO.

  • Diesel

    A pointless self indulgent approach from GMH that will see them go broke. Australia’s population is far too small to enable GMH the luxury of producing this ugly car that serves no purpose. If it was that good and serviceable, then it would be sold all over the world. A complete waste of time and goes to show just how far GMH are still stuck in the 1990’s….

    • Jim

      I would actually slap you if you said this in person to me for being such a sour, boring and rather ignorant fool. HSV is by all accounts rather profitable, building a niche and uniquely Australian car in small volumes. What’s wrong with that? I mean ‘self indulgent’? What nonsense.

      • diesel

        FYI – I singled out a single model within the HSV range, not the entire brand, so calm down and take a chill pill buddy.

    • Shak

      FYI HSV are NOT owned by GM, but Holden does have a minority share in the company. These cars are actually sold over the world, with the HSV GTS aka the Vauxhall VXR developing a cult following in the UK.

      • diesel

        FYI – search HSV on Wikipedia – you’ll clearly find that GMH in fact are a MAJOR stake holder, not minor. Ryan Wilkinshaw is the only other stake holder. Do your research next time buddy…..

    • T-DAWG

      Tell us Diesel whats a good looking car to you??

    • Chad

      When Holden were developing commodores they wouldn’t let HSV any where near them, they were completely on their own. Just goes to show how completely uneducated your comment is. Having such a strong opinion about this car and I would highly doubt I have driven one, if you had I’m sure you would find out why they are still available and selling well for their intended market

      • Diesel

        As per my rely to SHAK, go and research HSV on Wikipedia – GMH & HSV are one and the same, whether you like it or not! My opinion was only about the ugly ute, not other cars within their range, so take a chill pill buddy….

    • Wheelnut

      The Maloo is actually the 2nd best selling HSV behind the Clubsport..as for being sold around the world it’s available in the UK as the Vauxhall VXR8 as seen on Top Gear] and there are rumours that it could even make its way stateside next year as the Chevy Sports Truck

  • Leo

    The driver’s seat leather is looking rather tired already and its basically a brand new car. Hate to see what it looks like after a few years…

    Oh btw, I notice the interface says 2nd September 2012…… Is the pics that old or is that just an unconfigured car???

  • JamesB

    Not even a quarter of a year old and the driver’s seat already looks wrinkled.

    • LC

      That’s the suede, genius. It looks different from every angle you see it from, and from some angles, the color changes slightly, making it look creased.

  • gtrxuone

    $880 for 60,000km in service costs for a high performancer car is amazing.These utes are real head turners when you see one driving around.Most of us would be happy to drive an Xr6t or Ss utes,both great utes in ther own right.
    The Maloo R8 is just an amazing.Good to see it will go to the Uk,pity the Americas don’t get the chanse.

  • jake

    Look at the quality of that interior baaahahaha. What a piece of junk.

  • Dieseltorque

    So the interior is great except the two gauges from Supa Cheap, what a joke HSV. There is nothing happening here to justify the extra 20K above the SS ute. The hard tonneau with Hunch-back lumps is just ugly and old.

  • Fairlane

    “That’s more than the supercharged FPV Pursuit Ute”
    A dyno run would say otherwise.

  • Bluesoup

    HSV “i just want one” said bogan’s only!

    • turbodewd

      LOL – boganish spelling by you! The plural of bogan is bogans – not bogan’s! You’re the bogan old chap!

  • Benjamin Sutherland

    Looks the goods be interesting to see how long till we see them with big head and cam packages even though they are basically the same as a ve.

  • horsie

    Don’t get me wrong, i would swim 50 meters through a pool of s**t to get my hands on one of these. But i just don’t get his current fad of blackening out rear view mirrors, taking a painted mirror and covering it black. I can achieve the same performance look with a $5 can of spray paint.

  • Ostrich

    Interior already looks cheap and outdated. Looks like they had left overs from the VT to save cash.

  • LC

    Is that suede I see on the interior?


    Not a fan of leather, myself. Hot in summer, cold in winter, and so easily damaged by use and the elements.

  • ash

    wheels look good, rear looks terrible, barely holds a load, true ego car. CUB’s this is your car.

  • Cranky

    One for the Gino’s and Habib’s !

  • Zaccy16

    I think this shouldn’t be thought of us a ute but a 2 seater coupe/sports car with a huge boot!

  • cmonstergt

    I’m in the US and I’ve been lusting after a Ute since they were supposed to bring it over via Pontiac as an ST. Please, please, PLEASE bring it over!!


    You Guys are kidding me… I have the HSV VF R8 Maloo SV Enhanced Manual and everything “JUST FITS” everything is where it should be and as for those Digital Guages someone mentioned they are there too just a flick of a switch or voice activated….. get in the drivers seat and you really are part of the car. They forget to say in the right up about the adaptive Driver interface but they wouldnt know because after 240 klms thats nothing. The car drives how you want it from clutch,steering acceleration. This UTE is made for the Driver that loves driving.
    P.S. Long trip 10.1litres per 100 klms its the Manual.

  • Sam

    I’ve got a 2004 VY series 2 Maloo and I’m sure this will be an even better ride when I get it.

HSV Maloo Specs

Car Details
E3 MY12.5
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$47,080 - $53,500
Dealer Retail
$46,070 - $54,780
Dealer Trade
$36,200 - $42,800
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
550Nm @  4600rpm
Max. Power
317kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
13.7L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
245/35 R20
Rear Tyres
275/30 R20
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar, Coil Spring
Standard Features
Sport Seats
Control & Handling
Sports Suspension, Traction Control System
Power Steering, Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Radio CD with 7 Speakers
Power Mirrors
Power Windows
Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Optional Features
Control & Handling
Performance Brake Package
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Pass Side Windscreen
Country of Origin