2008 HSV Maloo Road Test
Options Fitted: Performance Pack ($3,750).
- by Paul Maric
Dinner with a lady friend and then back to my place for...drinks. That was the plan anyway. As simple as it had seemed at the time, I wasn’t prepared for the Maloo intervention. Dinner was said, done and paid for, so it was onward to my place. As we reached the Maloo – parked in rock star position out front of the swanky restaurant – three burly gentlemen were hunkered over the car, observing every minor detail from the badges, right through to the faux air vents on the side skirts.
After a passing “Sick car, bro” comment, the biggest of the three men walked over to my lady friend and started talking – seemingly like they had known each other forever. It didn’t take long for me to realise that it was in fact her over protective brother that she was speaking to – about me. He didn’t seem all too impressed with my several attempts at wit, so as a last resort, I offered to take him for a spin around the block.
After driving both the SS and Omega utes, I was very impressed with the compromise Holden had struck between practicality and driveability. The new range of Holden utes is literally sedan-like when it comes to handling, negating any shonky and abrupt chassis scuttle over rough surfaces and sub-par handling often associated with work utes.
The Maloo is much the same as Holden’s range of utes, except it further concentrates on the handling portion of things, bringing with it a firmer ride, bigger wheels and tyres, along with more horses under the bonnet.
Thankfully it was equipped with rear parking sensors, but the combination of high waistline and massive gills on the Maloo's exclusive hardtop meant that reversing was an extremely trivial and often dangerous task, as it was nigh on impossible to see anything out the rear window.
The hardtop was built specifically for the HSV Maloo and uses an electronic release mechanism to lock and unlock the hardtop. It’s a great idea – especially when you store valuable items in the tray. The electronic release on the test vehicle broke after the second day though. The problem seemed to arise after the vehicle was washed with a high pressure hose. After pressing the release button on the key, it would make an awful electronic buzzing noise. It would only sometimes lock correctly and then only unlock on other such rare occasions.
I was also often fearful of the external Maloo badges being stolen by thoughtless morons had they had the opportunity. The badges seemed quite cheap and easy to tear off given a little bit of effort.
Steering is taken care of by a HSV styled steering wheel, not dissimilar to the one used in the Clubsport R8 and GTS. Steering response and feel is also on par with its sedan siblings, a light feel to the steering along with decent accuracy are impressive traits the Maloo boasts.
Holden’s ESP system does a brilliant job when put to use throughout HSV’s range – including the Maloo. The ESP light often flashes in the background when giving the Maloo the beans, generally just limiting torque slightly, instead of stopping all power to the wheels. When the back end steps out, the system allows some foreplay before it steps in again to bring things under control.
The sound system is another gripe I continuously have with Holden’s VE range. Even in higher models like the Maloo, the sound system fails to offer any great deal of bass and begins distorting before reaching attentive levels. It’s an easy to use system though, the large LCD screen allows the customisation of the equaliser, along with easy transition through tracks and radio stations.
The Maloo is more of a show-pony than a work horse though. A payload of just 500kg means that carting an extensive load is best left to your work mates.
Thankfully, turning corners isn’t a lost cause for this endeavouring brute. The sport tuned suspension allows the car to sit flat through a corner and track much like its sedan counterparts. Piling on power mid-corner doesn’t result in loads of oversteer – which is very good news for a performance ute. If you are liberal with the throttle and don’t get over-enthusiastic, the Maloo can be quite a rewarding drive, not often associated with a utility.
Priced from $59,990 for the 6-speed manual and $61,990 for the 6-speed automatic, an optional ‘performance pack’ can be had for an additional $3,750 – which includes leather/suede Onyx performance seats and 20” wheels.
Now, back to my story. I ended up winning over the brother, but the girl ended up being a waste of time. Suffice to say, he absolutely loved the ute – as did his mates. He does have another sister though...so not all hope is lost.
Top speed: N/A
Safety: Electronic stability control- front air bags - front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters.
NCAP rating: N/A
Turning circle: 11.4m
Fuel tank: 73-litres
Fuel consumption : 14.9L litres/100km (auto), 15.8 litres/100km (manual)
Fuel type: 98RON premium unleaded