Drifting or Carrying? Think Twice – Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo

One day this might be a collector’s item. I know, it’s a bit of a stretch. Two things, though: almost no one in Europe is going to buy one now, so rarity value is a given, and Holden is ceasing all production at its Melbourne plant, so this beefy ute will be one of the last Oz designed and built cars. You’re still struggling, though, aren’t you?

OK, let’s pitch the Maloo a different way. It has a party trick – namely, it loves to do skids. In fact I think it might be the most brilliant off-the-shelf drift car in the UK. Think about the recipe. Up front a 6.2-litre s’charged V8, developing 537bhp and 495lb ft of ultra-accessible torque. In the middle, two seats. Out back, nothing. Just a big empty space, and underneath that a pair of unfashionably narrow 275-width tyres that are comically incapable of handling all that twist.

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Factor in a surprisingly composed chassis and you have a truck that, given a prod of throttle, will happily take up a sideways stance and boil its back tyres until the tarmac runs out. Of course, the fact it will do this is as irrelevant as the car itself is to the UK market. We just about get pickups; we don’t get utes. Anyone who buys this will probably run it through their business so they can claim costs back (s’charged V8s are heavy consumers) and use it for marketing purposes – mobile car valeters, maybe.

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Limited market or no, this is a proper thing. The load bay is huge, everything in the cabin is huge, especially the plump seats, steering wheel and gearlever. Driving it is like being ten again. I could barely see over the wheel. It’s not short of personality, the Maloo, and you’d imagine the V8 and chunkiness and butch appearance would paper over the inevitable dynamic cracks.

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But the truth of it is that this Maloo is substantially changed from the old 425bhp LS3 model. The suspension has been fully reworked, and while I wouldn’t say this one is sophisticated, the steering doesn’t judder under pressure and the back axle never hops around. It is almost… agile. For a pickup it surprised me, engaged me, made me sad it soon won’t be around. Farewell, Maloo, it’s been fun.

SPECIFICATIONS


Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo

vauxhall-vxr8-maloo-5Engine: 6162cc, V8, supercharged
Transmission: rear-wheel drive
Power: 537bhp
Torque: 495lb ft
CO2/tax band: n/a g/km, 18.5mpg
0-62mph: 4.6sec
Top speed: 155mph
Kerb weight: 1750kg

VERDICT 7/10

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The fastest commercial vehicle available in the UK – and probably everywhere else. But not for much longer

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