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HSV Maloo R8 manual and auto 2007 review

It speaks volumes for the HSV brand image and appeal that it can sell $125million worth of merchandise; clothes and caps, not cars; in its 20 years of existence. The company also sold about 4700 cars annually in recent years and is riding a wave of 12 consecutive record sales months.

HSV managing director Scott Grant says business boomed on the back the VE/WM-based E-Series; “We've had 12 very strong months with the sedan range and we think the Maloo will add yet another strong pillar to our sales potential.”

The Maloo R8 has strong appeal if the reaction of primary school children at the fence is any indication; and we were just idling by. The VE-based range has the Clayton factory punching out 30 cars a day. It was about six a day when the company started 20 years ago and the Maloo R8 won't make life any less busy for the HSV staff.

The ute is the company's second-biggest seller behind the Clubsport sedan and the new model has the visual appeal to keep its numbers healthy. The new Maloo R8 has a sleeker profile using a broader “HSV Performance sail plane” on the B-pillar which, combined with the HSV hard tonneau, gives the ute a coupe-like look.

The tonneau operates like a big boot for a two-door sports car, the new SMC tailgate locking mechanism can be remotely operated from the key fob. The Maloo R8 has a different tailgate to the VE Ute, with HSV claiming a 10-15 per cent weight saving in the new version, made from sheet-moulded polyester-resin compound.

It also gets an extended tail-light motif that looks more like decals and a little under-done.

The side-skirts have an extra vent that HSV says is inspired by the Walkinshaw Commodore but also looks a little Lamborghini-esque. Apart from the odd tail-light set-up, the rear end gets quad exhausts within a diffuser.

Under the skin the Maloo R8 has stiffer spring rates over the R8 and GTS sedan models; 40 per cent at the front and 50 per cent at the rear; but retains the same brake package.

There's plenty of gear ramming home the message this is anything but a tradie's ute, a chunky leather-wrapped sports steering wheel with audio and cruise control switchgear, trip computer, Bluetooth phone connection, alloy-faced pedals and a leather-wrapped gear shift.

The hard tonneau restricts rear vision, so the rear parking sensors are a must-have for parallel parking and general safety. The Maloo R8 also gets automatic headlights, HSV sports instrument cluster, an upgraded Blaupunkt 6CD MP3-compatible five-speaker sound system, suede/cloth-trimmed sports seats (with leather option), dual-zone climate control and only dual front airbags, no side airbags.

The engine is the now-familiar 6.0-litre alloy V8, offering 307kW and 550Nm of torque with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission (a $2000 option).

The automatic has had a makeover to get rid of the awkward Sport button; the lever flicks left for Sport mode. The manual change is also accessed on the left but the new Sport mode, complete with downshift throttle blip, does a more than adequate job. The rear wheels have a limited-slip differential and stability control (which can be switched off).

HSV says the ute offers identical performance; 0-100km/h in five seconds and a top speed limited to 250km/h, but that's only half the story.

The Holden VE Ute has plenty of rear-end grip and HSV have built upon that excellent base.

The HSV suspension tweaks don't include the sedan's Magnetic Ride Control; chief engineer John Clark would have liked to put it on but says the cost was a large chunk of money.

“Some of the hardware would have carried over, the front would have, but the rear dampers would have been different, so then the calibration to do it all adds up to an extra cost,” he says.

The tauter springs do detract from the ride quality somewhat; some compliance remains; but body control and grip (thanks in part to a bigger rear tyre) in the corners puts many passenger cars to shame.

One disappointment is the change from the VE Ute's easy-to-use seat-flip lever to a system that is more difficult to reach and harder to use.

At a tickle under $60,000, the Maloo R8 is a couple of grand cheaper than its predecessor and offers serious performance but only time will tell if the HSV badge, the extra gear and some extra grunt is worth the $13,000 jump from an SSV.

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Range and Specs

(base) 6.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,800 – 14,740 2007 HSV Maloo 2007 (base) Pricing and Specs
R8 6.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $11,300 – 16,610 2007 HSV Maloo 2007 R8 Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist


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