There probably aren't many people in the UK that need a 425bhp two-seater pick-up but Vauxhall reckons there's about 50 that want one and it's a great excercise in building the brand's performance credentials. The Maloo grabs more attention than almost anything else on the road but we just wish it felt a little bit more special from behind the wheel. It's blisteringly fast and handles well too but everything seems a little bit muted and sensible almost.
It’s not often you can call a car unique, but there really is nothing else like the Vauxhall VXR8
Maloo in the UK. It’s a mix between a muscle car and a pick-up truck, based on the Australian Holden Maloo and costs a whopping £51,000.
If the front end looks familiar that’s because this car is already sold by Vauxhall in saloon form as the standard VXR8. The same ‘Shockwave’ grille, large bonnet intakes and LED daytime running lights all feature but from the B-pillar backwards it’s a different world completely.
A hard tonneau cover that rises up on hydraulic struts hides the completely flat 1208-litre load bay while a huge rear diffuser and quad chrome tailpipes hint that this is no regular pick-up. And, as the countless points, stares and over the shoulder glances will attest the Maloo gets plenty of attention on the road.
Car group tests
Power comes from the same 425bhp 6.2-litre V8 as the VXR8 and – despite being 50kgs lighter than the saloon – the 0-62mph time remains at 4.9 seconds because there’s not as much weight, or grip, at the rear axle.
Judging by those looks and those performance figures it should be a bit of handful on the road, and while the acceleration will pin you back in your seat, the whole experience isn’t as crazy as you might imagine.
The ride is firm but not uncomfortable and refinement is good too. The downside is that there’s not enough noise from the exhaust. Pushing hard brings a muted roar from the V8 but it’s not the noise you expect from a car named after the Aboriginal word for ‘thunder’.
Through the bends the Maloo feels nicely balanced and you can even press the throttle midway through a corner without losing traction. Be too violent though and the blinking traction control light reminds you, the Maloo can be unruly if you push it.
This super pick-up is far from perfect though, as we struggled to move up through the gears of the notchy six-speed manual gearbox smoothly and found the steering to be a little too light and slow. Despite some nice touches in the stylish cabin, there are a few low quality plastics dotted around too.
As you might expect the Maloo will cost a fair bit to run with CO2 emissions of 320g/km and combined fuel economy of 21mpg. The £51,500 price-tag is also steep but the price includes part-leather seats, a reversing camera and Bluetooth.
There’s no doubting the Maloo occupies one of the smallest niches in the UK but Vauxhall has proved there’s a market for it by selling four already, and it expects to sell around 50 in total.