The HSV Maloo, meaning ‘thunder’ in Aborigine, is a sporty coupe utility vehicle produced by Holden Service Vehicles since 1990. The model is based on the frame of the Holden ute but includes modified V8 engines and personalised body kits. In 2006, the Maloo R8 became the fastest production utility when it beat the Dodge Ram’s previous record, by reaching 271km/h.
The first Maloo VG, of which there were 132 constructed, had the front end of the VN Sedan and is believed to mark the beginning of the performance ute classification. Fast-forward 23 years to the release of the E3 Maloo R8, and the HSV performance utility has come a long way.
The latest R8 is faster, more customised, and better equipped that its earlier model. Whereas the first utes just tinkered with the production model, the current HSV conversions are completely unique productions. The front grille is full of individual style, daylight running lights, fog lights, large air dam, air intakes on the bonnet, and an overall aggressive, crouching appearance. This is the 20th anniversary, limited edition though, and with only 100 being made, you’d expect them to have pulled out all the stops.
The rear tray is a massive cargo space and comes with a hard top Tonneau cover and dropdown tailgate for easy access. The back end is finished off nicely with quad, chromed exhausts and plenty of mouldings that enhance its boxy shape.
The Maloo has, throughout its 23 years, always featured a low, dipping front line, large impressive back, and subtle shaping and vents along its sides. They were always equipped with stylish alloy wheels, spoilers, and plenty of equipment inside. Production runs are always limited, the largest being 517 in the Z-Series and the rarest are the 15 Maloo VPs that came off the line in 1992.
The 2010 HSV E3 Maloo R8 runs on a growling 6.2L LS3 Generation 4 V8 engine. This performance-enhanced engine puts down 317kW of power and generates 550Nm of torque. All this energy is pushed through either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The car’s 73Lfuel tank averages 18.9L/100km and pumps 303g/km of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is what you’d expect with a car that takes you from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds.
Perched in the sports leather seats, the car gives a comfortable ride while the electronic stability, ABS, linear controlled suspension, limited slip differential, traction control, and responsive suspension keep the car glued to the road.
As you’d imagine from a limited edition car, the Maloo R8 comes with all the trimmings, and the cabin is kept comfortable with auto, duel-zone, climate control, and powered front driver’s seat. There are cruise controls, an Enhanced Driver Interface system, blind spot alert, satnav, leather-covered steering wheel, steering mounted audio controls, parking assist, and a 6-stack CD system. The five-star ANCAP safety rating is complemented with dual airbags including head airbags. It is fully alarmed, gorgeously finished in leather trim, fog lights, and stunning 20-inch alloy wheels.
The older Maloo models always cut an impressive line, with bright, stark colouring, standout alloy wheels, and a throaty roar from the engine. The start of the E-Series saw the Maloo well-equipped for safety and reaching the max ANCAP rating. Back in 1998, the HSV Maloo III could be picked up with full electronics, ABS, twin exhausts, and tinted windows.
The HSV Maloo started the performance utility class, so for a while it was its own competition, but as the desire and interest grew, other manufacturers started producing their own versions. There are plenty of serviceable utes on the market, but the Maloo operates in the far more exclusive performance arena and there are only a few true contenders. The main competition came from the Dodge Ram and the offerings from the Ford Performance Vehicles suite, especially the Ford F6 ute and the Ford Falcon ute.
The utility market is a powerful force and the Maloo was the ultimate trendsetter. Anyone who loves these commercial combo leisure vehicles must drive a Maloo once in their life, even if only on a test drive. What is not to like about the commercial converts? The vehicle is colourful, powerful and stylishly fitted out. You won’t be missed driving around in a HSV Maloo, that’s for sure.