HSV MALOO GXP REVIEW
HSV’s limited-edition Clubsport GXP and Maloo GXP are, for now, the cheapest models in the Holden performance shop’s 2010 line up, but that doesn’t mean they’re watered down by any great measure.
Melding the edgy styling of the E2 with the suspension and brake package of the now-discontinued Pontiac G8 GXP, the HSV GXP models still have the same amount of firepower as the more expensive R8, yet cost around $9000 less.
The Maloo GXP is the cheapest of all current-gen HSVs, retailing for just $55,990, and offers a lot of bang for your hard-earned buck.
The front-end styling is much the same as the costlier Maloo R8, but the GXP ute doesn’t get the R8’s reflector-clad tailgate and hard tonneau cover.
Instead, the standard SS-spec taillights and tailgate are fitted to the Maloo GXP’s rump, and a soft tonneau cover shrouds the tray. The GXP’s 19-inch wheels are also pinched from the superseded E1 range’s parts bin.
What’s the appeal?
Near-R8 performance at a fraction of the cost. With its soft tonneau cover, the Maloo GXP is also slightly more practical than the Maloo R8.
What features does it have?
Equipment levels for the GXP are much the same as the R8.
There’s dual-zone climate control, a trip computer, a trio of auxiliary gauges atop the centre stack, a six-disc CD player, cruise control and auto-on headlamps.
Satellite navigation and rear park assist are optional extras.
What’s under the bonnet?
The same 317kW 6.2 litre LS3 V8 that powers the rest of the HSV range (excluding the GTS) does duty under the GXP’s vented bonnet.
Peak torque measures in at 550Nm, and a six-speed manual gearbox is the standard transmission. A six-speed tiptronic auto is available at a $2000 premium.
Power is taken to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential, however unlike the Clubsport GXP – which uses the Pontiac GXP’s suspension hardware – the Maloo makes do with a custom setup.
For the ute, HSV used standard SS V springs and struts at the front and SS V dampers with R8 springs at the rear.
The brake package is comprised of four-piston Brembo calipers and 355mm discs on the front axle, with single-piston calipers and 324mm discs at the back.
How does it drive?
Thanks to its shared powertrain and drivetrain, the GXP accelerates with the same athletic zeal as the pricier R8.
Low-down torque is plentiful from the big V8, and not many revs are needed to make a clean getaway from a set of traffic lights. It sounds magnificent while doing so, too.
The Brembo brakes purloined from the Pontiac parts bin work well and give good pedal feel, but with 1745kg to haul up they do start to fade after a spirited workout down a steep and sinuous hill.
With standard SS V dampers all around, the suspension is noticeably softer than the regular Maloo R8. It’s not floaty, but the extra compliance definitely makes it more comfortable for day-to-day driving.
It does a reasonable job of absorbing imperfections in the road too, but it’s a shame the sportier hardware from the Clubsport GXP wasn’t able to be adapted to the Maloo’s frame.
Steering is typical Commodore, with a big, chunky wheel leaving you in no doubt as to the Maloo’s sedan origins. Steering weight is not too heavy, but the wheel isn’t the most communicative around.
That said, the GXP can definitely hang on tightly in a corner. Although it’s missing a rear cabin, the ute’s weight distribution isn’t that far removed from the sedan’s and dynamics don’t suffer much as a result.
Tail-out attitudes are a prod of the accelerator away (provided the stability control is switched off), and the GXP delivers old-school driving thrills.
There are the typical VE downsides though. The A-pillars hinder vision around corners, and over-the-shoulder visibility is practically non-existent. With such a long bed extending rearwards, reverse parking can also be a challenge.
What did our passengers think?
As with any other VE-based ute, only one passenger can be carried within the Maloo GXP’s cabin. Thankfully there’s acres of room for them to sprawl, and the passenger space is just as commodious as the front seat of any VE-based sedan.
Headroom is excellent, legroom is great and the backrest can be tilted back a fair way before it collides with the rear bulkhead.
The seat itself is well-sculpted and has a generous amount of under-thigh and lateral support, however is only available in cloth trim – leather is reserved for higher grades of HSV.
Interior quality and feel
Interior quality echoes that of other Holdens, with an abundance of plastic and a few bits of cheapish switchgear. The Calais-spec centre stack and centre console jazz things up a bit, though, and the fit and finish is quite good – even if the materials aren’t top-shelf.
The seats are superbly trimmed, and the black headliner gives the cabin an appropriately sporty ambience.
The Holden Ute-based HSV Maloo GXP can carry a total payload of 665kg, including passengers.
The ute bed and the back of the tailgate are fitted with a plastic bedliner to eliminate any scuffing of the metalwork, and a soft tonneau cover easily clips over the load area and is resistant to any high-speed flapping.
A number of tie-down points and hooks enable loads to be secured within the bed, and the gap between each wheelwell is appreciably wide.
How safe is it?
Although the HSV Maloo GXP has not been tested, the Holden Ute upon which it is based has earned a five-star rating in ANCAP crash safety tests.
Standard safety equipment includes ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control and traction control are standard, as are front, side and curtain airbags.
Fuel consumption and green rating
Fuel consumption is, as expected, not exactly stellar for the GXP. Its 6.2 litre V8 consumes a claimed 14.3 l/100km on the combined cycle, and at the culmination of our test we had an average figure of 18.7 l/100km.
At one point we went as low as 15.9 l/100km on the trip computer’s display, however getting close to HSV’s claimed number would involve a lengthy spell on a highway in top gear.
Factor in the GXP’s preference for 95 octane petrol, and running costs suddenly become rather monstrous.
The Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide has yet to rate the HSV Maloo GXP.
How does it compare?
The HSV Maloo GXP’s only natural rival is the FPV Pursuit ute, which retails for $58,990 in either six-speed manual or six-speed auto form and boasts a 5.4 litre V8 with 315kW and 551Nm.
Slightly more expensive than the Maloo GXP, the FPV Pursuit almost matches the HSV for power and barely eclipses it for torque, but has a more top-heavy power curve that requires revs to fully exploit its abilities.
The GXP, on the other hand, has oodles of low-down torque at its disposal.
However, given the traditional FPV – HSV rivalry the deciding factor for many buyers won’t be which is more powerful or driveable, but which wears the badge that appeals to them most.
HSV offers a three-year/100,000km warranty on all of its current model range.
The 2010 HSV Maloo GXP is available in white, red, black, silver, blue or gold.
The Maloo GXP starts at $55,990 for the manual and rises to $57,990 for the automatic. Only 350 Maloo GXPs will be built.
HSV’s Maloo GXP finally brings the fight to FPV’s Pursuit ute, which has long held a price advantage over the Maloo R8. However, FPV is expected to wheel out a revitalized range in the coming months, with one of the key changes being more powerful powerplants and revised pricing, which may change the game yet again.
Until that happens, die-hard fans of the Red Lion with a penchant for blue-collar performance utes can now own their own HSV for much less than before, with little sacrifice in overall performance.
With only 350 scheduled to be built, though, those buyers had better be quick.