It’s certainly bold. The Vauxhall Maloo I’ve been given to test is making one massive statement, but I’m not sure what that statement is. It’s part luxurious cruiser, part muscle car and part pick up truck. I’m struggling to see the point.
Slipping in to the cabin, I’m exposed to the equivalent of a modern day Omega. It’s pleasant, inoffensive, but there’s nothing too overtly sporting about the environment. Only a trio of dials on top of the dashboard hint at anything unusual, although even these measure just battery voltage and both oil temperature and pressure.
Turn the ignition key and there’s a low rumble from the front of the car. In to gear, and manoeuvre out of the parking area. It’s light, with little effort required to turn the car. Visibility is good, the clutch is light enough. It’s sensible and, with that, disappointing. There’s no sense of occasion, no sense that this is something special. It’s a big Vauxhall.
In no time at all, there’s an explosion of sound from the engine, an even louder explosion from the exhausts. Suddenly the scenery turns very blurry.
There’s a left hand turn. Brake hard. Harder. Turn in, find the apex, power and WOOOAH! The back end of the Maloo goes its own way, some distance from where the front end is, but my foot refuses to lift. I’m revelling in the sensations, the sounds, the sight of a rear view mirror full of nothing but blue tyre smoke. It’s probably best I get things straight again, so I gently ease off the throttle and bring the car back in line. Then I stand on the accelerator once again and YEE-HAW!
So what have we got in the Maloo. It’s a car Vauxhall import from Australia, where it’s known as a Holden. There HSV (or Holden Special Vehicles) breathe extra life in to the car, with the result being that there a 6.2 litre V8 engine up front that produces 425 bhp. That’s enough to get this 1.8 tonnes of metal to 60 mph in less than five seconds and on to an electronically limited 155 mph.
There are plenty of cars out there with more than the 425 bhp, but how the Maloo releases that power is brutal. Every time I press the throttle, a huge grin breaks out on my face. It shouts its way from one corner to another, even managing to handle the corners with a feeling reasonable security. Again, there are plenty of cars that will corner more accurately or go round faster but few will go quite as, well, sideways.
That light rear end (there’s no back seats remember, just a huge expanse of flat metal that will store 1,200 litres or so of luggage under its secure cover) can really be felt when pressing on as it jumps around at every undulation or camber change. It’s never in a way that suggests it’s about to throw you in to a nearby field, but swift progress certainly requires both concentration and plenty of steering input.
There’s plenty of equipment, sat-nav and the like, but that’s of little consequence. If you’re even considering buying a Maloo, then you’re not interested in whether it’s got DAB or just FM, who makes the sat-nav or if there’s a Bluetooth phone link. You’re thinking of spending £51,000 on something so ridiculous because it is just so ridiculous.
For roughly the same money you can buy a Mercedes C63 AMG which comes with a similar sized engine, more power, less weight, more practicality, less fuel use, better equipped, higher quality and with nearly as much noise.
Yet if the Maloo is on your shopping list, then it’s very unlikely that you’ll care about any of that, nor the £475 road tax, low 20 mpg economy (if you’re very lucky!) or high insurance costs.
When I first got the Maloo I didn’t understand what the point was. I get it now.
It’s about pure, unadulterated, fun. Forget the environment, forget political correctness, forget practicality. This machine makes you smile, shouts about it while it does it and doesn’t care who disagrees.
For that I applaud it.
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