HSV Maloo 2004 Review
But while such beasts still rule the roost on the work site, utes – especially high-performance variants – now have a much wider appeal.
So, with the much-anticipated LS2 engine under the bonnet, the Z-series HSV Maloo is set to be a sought-after vehicle.
The Maloo can happily handle any job that is thrown at it and with the power and torque under the bonnet, sports seats and air conditioning it does so with style and comfort.
Apart from the 6.0-litre engine, the VZ Maloo has had a number of changes.
It adds 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/35 ZR19 tyres, traction control and multi-link independent rear suspension.
At start-up the engine sound is noticeably quieter, the burble deeper and throatier and with a hint of roughness on idle.
Once the wheels are turning the tone becomes a lot louder as it resonates throughout the cabin.
The engine is smoother and more refined than the Gen III and the flatter torque curve equates to even more grunt underfoot and increased torque under 3000rpm.
Maximum power (297kW at 6000rpm) and torque (530Nm at 4400rpm) is achieved using premium unleaded juice and although HSV says the engine will happily operate on normal unleaded (albeit with a slight reduction in figures) it was not tested.
The Tremec six-speed M12 manual box is an improvement on the old one. Shifts are shorter and tighter, and changes require little effort.
The heavy-duty Corvette C6 clutch is heavy under foot but, surprisingly, using it in traffic is not overly laborious.
The Maloo R8 tested had a Bosch 8 ABS system with electronic brake-force distribution and four-piston, cross-drilled brakes.
The pedal is firm underfoot and the improved package is noticeable, especially when braking hard.
The Maloo is the first Holden ute to get traction control. The configuration of previous utes precluded the installation of the system, but the changes required for the new engine gave engineers the chance to get it in.
The multi-link rear suspension gives the Maloo a different feel on the road, which – combined with the 19-inch wheels – adds to stability, helps reduce roll oversteer and improves turn-in feel.
The bigger wheels and rubber increase the ute's stability and sure-footedness.
The Maloo's tray is quite large. The previously oversized wheel arches have been trimmed to allow better use of the space.
The lockable tonneau cover keeps tools safe and secure and the protective lining inside helps stop damage from wayward ones.
The Maloo's sports styling is more aggressive than the previous model and in traffic on the M2 received a few comments.
With the drivetrain modifications it is not surprising the interior didn't get much of an upgrade. The full-leather trim and leather seat inserts do enhance the look but the dashboard highlight and centre console stack with twin-gauge HSV binnacle do little to dispel the "Commodore with frills" feeling.
On the test car the seat adjuster and part of the door trim fell off and the windows squealed when opened and closed.
The Maloo is priced from $54,250 for the base model and $61,450 for the R8. This means it has increased only slightly in price ($750) from the previous models, despite the all-new drivetrain and mechanical upgrades.
The Maloo R8 will be as popular on the work site as it is at the office.
Range and Specs
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data