2013 HSV MALOO REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Performance utility
Price: $58,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 317kW/550Nm 8cyl petrol | 6spd manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 13.5 l/100km | tested: 16.5 l/100km
A thumping great big V8 up front, three pedals and a stick in the middle, driven wheels at the back and a big ol’ tub for your gear.
The only way this combo could be more Australian is if it came equipped with a wombat in the tub.
Nothing South of $60k offers as much power (317kW) and torque (550Nm), although FPV’s offering comes close. And, being a ute, it’s also got more than a modicum of practicality.
Straight line performance is, as you’d expect, rather good, but one thing that continues to surprise us about HSV’s utes is just how well they handle. With the arrival of the VF Commodore based Gen-F Maloo, it’s only gotten better.
Quality: The arrival of the VF brought a massive lift in interior quality for HSV’s product line - not just in presentation, but in materials used.
There’s more soft-touch surfacing, the suede-upholstered dashpad is a nice touch and the silver trimmings give the Maloo’s cabin an upmarket air.
There are still some hard and scratchy plastics on the lower dash and centre console, but, by and large, this is a hugely improved interior.
Comfort: While the Maloo’s manually-adjusted and partial-leather seats aren’t as cosseting or supportive as the Maloo R8’s, they’re still very comfortable and more than accommodating for a broad range of body types.
The steering wheel has shrunk, and not only feels sportier, but also makes it easier for rapid direction changes.
If only the gearknob had also been downsized. It still feels oversized, and the hard plastic top is uncomfortable.
The biggest ergonomic debit however is the Maloo’s lack of over-the-shoulder vision. There’s little point in doing headchecks, and the blind spot can only be visually checked by shifting your body forward while looking at the wing mirrors.
Thankfully, to get around this, HSV has equipped the Maloo with blind spot monitors as standard.
Equipment: It’s the base model, so the Maloo misses out on some of the toys enjoyed by other models in the Gen-F line up.
Holden’s MyLink system is also standard on the Maloo, and integrates easily with most mobile devices via Bluetooth.
Annoyingly though, HSV hasn’t removed the icon for the EDI data-logging system from the MyLink home screen (it’s standard on R8 variants and above, but not on the Maloo or Clubsport), and it only serves to remind you of a cool feature that you don’t have.
Storage: Tradie? You’ll be able to stuff plenty of gear in the back of a Maloo, and as the base model doesn’t get the R8’s hard fibreglass tonneau cover, you can actually pile stuff higher than the tub sides if you want to.
More delicate cargo can be carried in the limited space behind the driver’s and passenger’s seat, though you’d realistically only be able to fit a backpack, briefcase or laptop bag back there.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The E3 Maloo’s 6.2 litre LS3 V8 carries over, as does its TR6060 six-speed manual. The driving experience is unchanged compared to the E3 Maloo, but that’s not a bad thing.
Torque is everywhere with this engine. Low down, up high - it doesn’t matter where you are in the rev range, there’s torque for the taking.
In total, there’s 550Nm of it. So much, in fact, that you don’t need to flare the throttle when moving off from a standstill. Just select first through the heavy (and slightly rubbery) shifter, ease out the clutch with the engine idling and you’re off.
Turn up the wick, and the LS3 responds. Throttle response is sharp, and although you can feel the extra mass of the engine’s components spinning away in the crankcase, it’ll zip to its 6500rpm redline with great gusto.
First gear and a pinch of second is enough to see you to 100km/h, and the Maloo doesn’t run out of steam there.
The bulky gearshift however interrupts the flow of power while you muscle the shifter through the gate, but consider it part of the experience.
It might not be the fastest way to change gears these days, but it sure feels a lot more involving than the automatic alternative.
Refinement: Curious to feel how a low-intensity earthquake feels? Sit in a Maloo at idle.
There’s plenty of vibration from up front, and the dull bass of the exhaust note is raw - but not as loud as the bi-modal exhaust fitted to the Maloo R8.
Our only real refinement complaint was with the steering, which seemed to emit a slight noise when the electric assistance motor was engaged and the engine was hot.
Ride and Handling: “Utes don’t handle”. That’s what people who’ve never driven a Maloo say.
Sure, you’d think that lopping the back-half off a sedan and replacing it with a simple high-sided tub wouldn’t do a car’s weight distribution any favours. In the Maloo though, its static balance isn’t all that different from its four-door cousins.
Treat it with respect and it’ll grip hard. But not only does it grip, it does so with composure.
The Gen-F Maloo’s suspension has been calibrated to be firm but yielding on harsh bumps. Mid-corner bumps don’t upset it either, even when pushing hard.
Push it too far and the nose eventually washes wide into understeer, but finding the limit certainly requires plenty of commitment - or ham-fistedness.
Electric power steering is new for the Gen-F, and just as in the VF Commodore it transmits plenty of information back to the driver’s fingertips.
Its weighting is near perfect: not too heavy around centre, but it loads up nicely the harder you corner.
The rotors have swollen to 367x32mm at the front and 367x28mm at the rear, with four-piston calipers on both axles.
Their stopping power is never in short supply, and the Maloo washes off speed with ease despite its hefty 1721kg kerb weight
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - Though the HSV model range has not been tested, the VF Commodore ute upon which it is based has scored 34.06 out of 37 in ANCAP testing.
Safety features: Switchable stability control (three modes), traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist are all standard, while occupant protection is provided by dual front, dual side and dual curtain airbags.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years or 100,000km
Service costs: Under HSV’s capped-price servicing programme, the first four scheduled services cost no more than $220 each.
The scheme applies for the first three years or 60,000km of ownership, whichever occurs first.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
FPV GS Ute ($52,990) - If we’re talking about V8-powered Aussie utes, there’s really only one alternative to the Maloo - FPV’s GS ute.
The GS commands a pretty good price lead on the $59k Maloo, and its 315kW/545Nm supercharged 5.0 litre V8 is a gem of an engine with a fatter torque curve than the HSV’s naturally-aspirated 6.2.
However, it can’t hold a candle to the Maloo for interior quality, gadget count or - most importantly - cornering traction.
The GS’ live axle rear end does it no favours when it comes to performance around a curve, and it’s decidely more tail-happy than the HSV. That makes it a slower machine out in the real world. (see FPV reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Likeable, pragmatic and a bit of an athlete - yep, the Maloo is Australian to its core.
Even in base model form it’s got appeal that stretches beyond its price tag. If you need to carry a load - everyday, or just occasionally - it’s ideal.
And you can take it to the track and you'll discover a surprisingly capable beast within.
But even if you just want to own a key piece of Australiana, you can’t go past this home-grown performance ute.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- 2013 Gen-F Maloo - $58,990
- 2013 Gen-F Maloo R8 - $68,290