What is it?
It’s the new the Vauxhall Maloo. Doesn’t mean anything to you? The Maloo is a Vauxhall VXR8-based pick-up truck created for the Australian market, but which has been known to make a cameo appearance in the UK line-up.
This is the ‘E3’ model, meaning it is based on the current 425bhp, 406lb ft 6.2-litre V8 VXR8. Power is sent via a six-speed manual ‘box through a limited slip-diff to the rear-wheels alone, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 4.9sec. It’s the second generation of Maloo we’ve had the pleasure of seeing in Britain, but this one sets a rather different price point at £51,500.
What’s it like?
It drives exactly how you would expect. It has a blunt, gung-ho approach to its power delivery and responses that suits the redneck image, and whilst that may sound unappealing in some ways, it is massively entertaining.
The main controls are all fairly heavy, but the steering is weighted well enough and with familiarity you can modulate the sensitive brakes easily, too. The gearshift is positive but heavy and whilst it’s never going to be a delicate machine it is not as wooden as you might imagine.
The chassis gets MacPherson struts up front, multi-link at the rear, and bespoke spring and damper settings all round, and the setup endows the Maloo with acceptable traction and pliancy over the French mountain roads where we drove it.
Don’t mistake the lack of subtlety for a lack of comfort - the Maloo actually makes for a decent tourer. Ride is comfortable, even if body roll is fairly noticeable, and the cabin is impressively cosseting. Even the engine noise subsides when the fabulously un-stressed V8 isn’t under load.
The Maloo has also become more technical than ever. It gets launch control and Bluetooth/USB connectivity, as well as a Nissan GT-R-like set of vehicle dynamics readouts that include g-force and lap-time displays. Full leather is also standard.
Should I buy one?
Let’s face it, you’re probably not even considering it. Even Vauxhall predicts that less than 50 people will buy a new Maloo.
That’s not to say that it isn’t an overwhelmingly likeable and fun car. Of course, pretty much any mainstream, conventional sports car would be a vastly more rounded and justifiable proposition at this price.
But if you are one of the few that could find a means and motive to buy a £51k, two-seat, five-metre long, V8 pick-up then you won’t be disappointed. It’s no dynamic benchmark, but on UK shores it will be rarer than just about any supercar, and it delivers feel-good factor (provided you’re after attention) as well as muscle-car like entertainment that few other cars come close to.
Vauxhall VXR Maloo
Price: £51,500; Top speed: 155mph; 0-60mph: 4.9sec; Economy: 21mpg; Co2: 320g/km; Kerb weight: 1831kg; Engine type: V8, 6162cc; Power: 425bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 406lb ft at 4600rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual