2014 HSV GTS Maloo review: Is the world's fastest ute also one of the best performance cars?
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The only thing more mind-boggling than putting a race-ready supercharged V8 in a humble workhorse ute is the effect the utterly brutal acceleration has on your skull.
The HSV GTS Maloo is the world's fastest ute but even when you have an idea what to expect, nothing truly prepares you for full thrust.
It is so quick my brain can barely comprehend what's happening. It is fast forward in real life, with a V8 Supercar sound track.
Each gear change causes another shove in the back, and then the rapid acceleration simply doesn't stop until you dip the clutch to grab another gear. And then it happens all over again.
Meet the Ferrari of utes, brought to you by Holden's performance car division, Holden Special Vehicles. The same outfit that looks after Holden's flagship V8 Supercar team.
HSV has used the supercharged V8 it fitted to the GTS sedan a year ago, and installed it in a limited run of cargo carriers. Because it can, and because it wanted to leave a lasting impression when the Australian car industry closes its doors in 2017.
After all, could there be anything more Australian that a ute (which, incidentally, we invented in 1933 when a Ford engineer's wife wanted a car that could be used on a farm and then driven to church) with a bloody big V8?
The HSV GTS Maloo is a monument for Australia
Detractors may ask why the world needs such a car. But there are plenty of other vehicles in this performance league. And HSV has loaded the GTS Maloo with every piece of safety technology available on an Australian-made car.
Besides, there is no restriction on how quickly you can reach the speed limit.
In this case the HSV GTS Maloo can complete the industry-standard 0 to 100km/h feat in a handy 4.5 seconds. As quick as a Porsche 911.
To help balance the books HSV has also added the biggest brakes ever fitted to a ute anywhere in the world. Indeed, the bright yellow calipers and shiny discs the size of pizza trays are bigger than those fitted to a V8 Supercar.
The HSV GTS also has three levels of stability control -- which helps prevent a skid in a corner -- has wider tyres on the rear than at the front to improve rear-end grip, and a crash warning system if you're too close to the car in front.
It also has a "torque vectoring" system similar to that used by Porsche to control rear-end grip in sweeping corners.
Anyone concerned about the ability of the ute chassis to handle so much power should fear not. A Toyota HiLux is more slippery in the wet than the world's fastest pick-up. Trust me, thanks to a coincidence of vehicle bookings and torrential weather, we drove both utes back to back in the worst conditions Mother Nature could muster this week.
To make sure there are no excuses for doing the wrong thing, the GTS Maloo also has a digital speed readout that reflects onto the windscreen in the driver's line of sight. Just like a BMW.
If the worst should happen there are six airbags and a five-star safety rating to protect you. Just like a Volvo.
But all I can think about right now is the sound. I've travelled to Bathurst and back for The Great Race the long way, on bumpy pot-holed roads designed for workhorses not showponies.
And despite riding on massive 20-inch wheels (also the biggest ever fitted on an Australian-made car) and low profile European tyres designed for German autobahns (these Continental tyres were originally made for Mercedes-Benz) it rides as if it's on magic carpet.
Whatever your impressions are of brutish Holden utes, this is the opposite. It's far more civilised than any Cashed Up Bogan (that's a marketing term and, as an owner of five V8 utes in 10 years, I count myself among them -- except for the ‘Cashed Up' bit) could ever imagine.
The faux suede trim on the dash, the alloy-look brightwork around the air vents, the piano black finish near the instruments, all combine to go some way to justifying the $90,000 price tag. Well, that and the massive engine, heavy duty gearbox and race-car-style differential with special cooling veins.
Without doubt the GTS Maloo is yet another exclamation point for the Australian car industry. Anyone expecting Armageddon on the roads, need not worry.
Most of these utes will never be driven as their maker intended. With just 250 to be made (240 for Australia and 10 for New Zealand) most will end up locked away as collector pieces.
And that's a tragedy akin to keeping Black Caviar as a pony for the kids.
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