June 10, 2010
It might have been born to work, but the humble Aussie ute has evolved into a much more sophisticated car that is now used more for recreational pursuits than it is for slogging it out on the job site. Vehicles like the HSV Maloo are the ultimate expression of this new-age ute possessing a level of performance, safety and refinement never imagined by the original ute's creators in their wildest dreams.
Gone are the days when utes were uncomfortable, evil handling and sometimes downright dangerous; today's utes do everything just as well as their sedan siblings. They're so good, in fact, that Holden even describes its Ute as a two- door sports car. If that were true the HSV Maloo would have an even greater claim to that moniker.
While the ute began life as a humble working class vehicle it has over the years become something of a cult car with true-blue Aussies of all ages. It's no longer just a working class vehicle; all sorts of people use it in all manner of activities.
Holden and Ford long ago recognised the trend to the ute as a recreational vehicle and have both moved to satisfy the demand with a series of stylish sports models aimed more at out-of-hours pursuits than those on the job site. To put this into some sort of perspective Holden said when releasing the VE ute that some 70 per cent of all VE Holden utes sold were the sportier models, the SS and SV6.
It's a reality that today's ute is more likely to carry sports or camping gear than it is bricks, timber and tools. If the Holden ute set the bar for sports utes higher, the HSV Maloo took the concept to an even loftier performance plain again.
Like all HSV models the Maloo builds on the Holden ute with a unique set of body front and rear parts, along with a unique hard tonneau cover, that give it its own distinct muscular look without cutting into the basic Holden body structure.
It's a craft HSV has perfected over more than 20 years of building hotter Holdens and the result is that the Maloo looks as tough as nails. Matching the muscular look is the Maloo's musclebound 6.0-litre LS2 V8 engine that turns out a whopping 307 kW at 6000 revs and 550 Nm at 5100 revs.
Two rugged gearboxes are offered to Maloo buyers. One is a six-manual 'box, the other a six-speed auto that channels the V8's muscle to the rear wheels. With all that grunt under the bonnet HSV was wise to ensure the chassis was up to the task of handling it, and with independent suspension front and rear, sports shocks, monster brakes, and huge 19- inch wheels and tyres, it is more than capable to taming the beast.
But while the Maloo has the credentials needed for a place on the performance car grid it doesn't lack anything in refinement either. Inside the cabin the driver and passenger have leather sports seats, steering wheel, and dials, and well as a full array of features like air, cruise, power windows and mirrors, automatic wipers, as well as rear parking sensors to ensure those special bumpers don't get scratched.
In The Shop
Generally the Maloo is a tough and reliable unit, the issues it can have are the same that an equivalent Holden ute might also have. The LS2 V8 engine appears to give little trouble, same goes for the transmissions and diff.
Look for signs of abuse, the Maloo will stand up to hard driving, but like all cars won't cope well with abusive driving. Check for a service record to ensure oil changes have been carried out as recommended.
In A Crash
The E Series Maloo is fitted with a comprehensive array of safety gear, including dual front airbags, electronic stability control, anti-skid brakes, traction control, and brake assist with brake-force distribution.
At The Pump
The E Series Maloo is no fuel miser and the fuel consumption achieved is heavily dependent on the weight of the driver's right foot. HSV claimed an average fuel consumption of 14.9 L/100 km.
Anyone put off by the Maloo's high fuel consumption might want to think about fitting a dual-fuel vapour-injection system, which has the potential to almost halve the running costs based on the current pricing of unleaded and LPG. Vapour-injection systems are configured to use unleaded petrol to the start the engine and for the first few seconds of warm-up before automatically switching over to gas.
That way they start quickly and run smoothly while the engine comes up to its running temperature. Once it has switched over to LPG gas is used almost exclusively, and the system only switches back to unleaded if the demand for fuel exceeds the LPG system's capacity to supply. That means there is no loss of performance.
A dual-fuel Maloo will run just as hard as one running on petrol, but the running cost will be much lower.
The Bottom Line
HSV's hot ute looks the goods, goes hard, and doesn't have to be expensive to run.