The Maloo is another of Vauxhall's occasional bona fide oddball. Few car manufacturers have products whose breadth matches those of General Motors, and fewer still allow little pockets of entertaining brilliance like Holden Special Vehicles to thrive. Yet thrive it does.

HSV was established by Tom Walkinshaw in the late 1980s as a joint venture with Holden, with the remit of modifying Holdens for the road and racing them in Australia's touring car series. Its first road car was the Group A VL Commodore; just three years later HSV made its 5000th car, with the Maloo joining the line-up in 1990.

Today, Australia's V8 Supercars series doesn't require the homologated body kits and the like that the old Group A rules asked for, so HSV's products are just for the road. However, HSV's management still looks after the official Holden Racing Team in V8 Supercars.

HSV's core product is the Clubsport R8, which is based on the Holden Commodore and known in the UK as the Vauxhall VXR8. But HSV also offers the longer Senator and Grange performance luxury saloons and this, the Maloo, which is based on the Holden Ute.

While the 4x4 pick-up is becoming increasingly popular in Britain, the Australian-style utility vehicle has never held quite the same draw. Let's see if sticking a 6.2-litre V8 in the front of one can increase the appeal.

Top 5 Super saloons

  • Jaguar XFR
    Not only is the XFR the class leader, it is also exceptional value compared to rivals

    Jaguar XFR

    1
  • Mercedes-AMG C 63
    Mercedes-AMG C 63 saloon is priced from £59,800

    Mercedes-AMG C 63

    2
  • BMW M3
    The M3 packs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six that produces 425bhp and 405lb ft

    BMW M3

    3
  • Mercedes-AMG E 63
    The old 6.2-litre V8 has been dropped in favour of a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8

    Mercedes-AMG E 63

    4
  • Jaguar XJR
    The Jaguar XJR offers monstrous, relentless performance

    Jaguar XJR

    5

First drives

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