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2014 HSV GTS Maloo Review: Preview Drive Photo:
 
 
Kez Casey | Oct, 13 2014 | 6 Comments

What’s Hot: 430kW in an Aussie ute! Mate, load-carriers don't come any hotter...
What’s Not: Can’t see a thing out the back, some interior plastics a bit dreary
X-FACTOR: History will record this as one of HSV’s finest: it drives like a track weapon and can carry its own mobile pit-garage.

Vehicle Style: Performance utility
Price: $TBA (plus on-roads)

Engine/trans: 430kW/740Nm 8cyl petrol | 6spd auto or 6spd manual
Fuel Economy claimed: TBA | tested: 16.4 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

“If you've ever wondered what the ultimate Aussie muscle car looked like, well, here it is.”

Those were our words after driving the GTS sedan last year, and we meant every one of them.

Or at least, we did, until we discovered that HSV had hatched a plot to meld the thumping 430kW GTS drivetrain with the iconic Maloo utility body.

Yep, sounds like the kind of nuts engineering experiment we could totally endorse.

This berserk Franken-ute carries the kind of specifications to make big-dollar Euro sedans nervous. And it wraps them up in a bodystyle that we may never see again in this country once local manufacturing pulls up stumps in 2017.

With production capped at 250 units, the GTS Maloo is sure to be a rare beast. This one, let me tell you, will rightfully take its place alongside other collectable weapons such as the GTS-R and W427.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Multi-function, leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel.
  • HSV Performance seats in Onyx (black) leather with electric height and lumbar - red-hot trim optional.
  • Dual zone climate control, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.
  • MyLink touchscreen infortainment with HSV Enhanced Driver Interface for performance monitoring and telemetry.

Don’t be too surprised by what you see inside the cabin of the GTS Maloo: the interior is as you’d find in a normal GTS, just cut off behind the rear seats.

That means the heavily bolstered seats have made it across - smaller backs will find there’s room to spare, while bigger frames will be a better fit.

They're good and comfortable, however, get aggressive through the bends and the soft bolsters don’t offer quite enough support.

Holden’s MyLink touchscreen entertainment system makes an appearance, along with HSV’s Enhanced Driver Interface offering a swag of performance and vehicle data as well as racetrack logging.

Ultimately, for a vehicle hovering around the $90k mark, the interior just isn’t quite special enough. There’s oil pressure and boost gauges and a HSV monogrammed dash but that’s about all you get to discriminate your purchase.

Unless of course you opt for the six-speed automatic version. Then, for the first-time on the HSV range, the auto scores a set of paddles shifters. A welcome addition if you decide to opt for the self-shifter.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • 6.2 litre supercharged LSA V8.
  • 430kW at 6000rpm, 740Nm at 4200rpm.
  • Six-speed manual or optional six-speed auto with paddle shifters.
  • Torque-vectoring rear differential
  • 390x36mm front and 372x28mm rear cross-drilled rotors with six-piston front and four-piston rear forged AP Racing calipers.
  • 20x8.5-inch (f) and 20x9.5-inch (r) ‘Blade’ forged alloy wheels with 255/25 R20 and 275/30 R20 Continental Sport Contact 5P tyres.

Mechanically speaking, the GTS Maloo pulls its oily bits from the regular GTS sedan. That means a 6.2 litre supercharged V8 engine from the Camaro ZL1 provides the prodigious motive force.

And, just like the sedan, there’s 430kW of power and 740Nm of torque. There’s also a torque-vectoring rear diff - a world-first for a utility.

Prod the starter button and the supercharged LSA blats into life with a throaty throttle blip and open valves on the bi-modal exhaust, before settling into a menacing, growling idle.

Our time was spent in the six-speed automatic. We’ve driven the manual before as a sedan - it doesn’t exactly slide slickly through its shift gate but it has the right weight and feel in a powerhouse muscle-car like the GTS.

If you were to pick the auto you’ll be rewarded with a box that makes the GTS Maloo all too easy to drive.

One pedal makes it go (fast), the other makes it stop (hard), and if you use them simultaneously… well, that’s best left alone on public roads ("Hello officer...?").

Shifts are smooth, but not dual-clutch quick, and the electronic coding does a pretty good job of working out what your demands are and picking the right ratio without second-guessing.

Paddles shifters make their HSV debut in the Maloo (you’ll also find them in the updated Commodore SS-V Redline) and work well. Gears are held to the redline, downshifts are near instant, but oddly upshifts suffer a slight delay.

There are three driving modes to pick from: Tour, Sport and Performance - Tour is the most docile, Sport adds some weight to the steering, opens the exhaust valves, and activates the torque-vectoring diff.

The madder mode, Performance, loosens the ESP intervention.

Unlike the turbo V8s favoured by ‘those’ German sedans, the supercharged LSA V8 delivers torque in a more linear manner.

The predictable power delivery makes it feel more like a very potent atmo mill, as opposed to the ‘all or nothing’ rush of a turbo.

Although the magnetic ride control of the sedan is missing (HSV couldn’t justify the cost and loss of payload to adapt it to the Maloo) the regular damper set-up, with unique valving, does an impressive job.

The ride is stiff, but surprisingly never sharp.

Level cornering and face-tearing levels of lateral grip are assured. Get really vocal on the throttle and hanging the rear out is a piece of cake - and the long wheelbase makes it also infinitely predictable.

Keep revs above 3500rpm and the GTS Maloo is simply relentless. The massive thrust and bellowing noise are properly old-school, yet the grippy handling and unbelievably strong brakes are (reassuringly) thoroughly modern and hard to fault.

Faults? Realistically for the kind of market the GTS Maloo will appeal to there aren’t really any - it exceeds expectation and delivers some king-hits to cars costing twice as much.

Our sole gripe is that between the ‘performance sail plane’ and double-humped hard tonneau cover there’s not much to see out the rear. Good thing there’s blind-spot monitoring and a reverse camera then.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 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: Six airbags, ABS brakes with EBD and EBA, four-stage stability control, forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, self-parking, front and rear park sensors, cross traffic alert and load limiting seatbelt pretensioners.

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

So, you want a ute with ridiculously high outputs, razor sharp handling, and outrageous looks? Then Maloo it is.

FPV has hit the deck and there’s no new Ford XR8 ute coming - Performax will sell you a torque-moster F250, but a performance ute it is not. The GTS Maloo is completely and utterly unique the world over.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Let’s be perfectly honest here, HSV doesn’t need to offer the GTS Maloo - they’re building it because they can.

It has no competitor to answer to, and could easily have been a motor show one-off. But it isn’t.

HSV is making this implausible hay-hauler as a thank you to an Australian motoring public that simply wouldn’t have it any other way.

You may not ‘get it’ - you might not see the point - but that’s okay. You surely don't think that any of the 250 lucky owners who manage to get their hands on this piece of Australian motoring nostalgia are going to lose any sleep over what anyone thinks.

This incredible tribute to legendary Aussie ingenuity deserves a standing ovation. Not only because it exists in the first place, but because it is a bloody wonderful culmination of everything HSV has achieved thus far.

MORE: HSV News & Reviews
MORE: Utes | LCVs | Performance

 
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