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We've tried Vauxhall Maloos before and found that their springs and dampers were set up stiffly. This was so they could cope with a heavy load, but the upshot was that they fidgeted and skipped around at the rear without one.

Pleasingly, though, the latest Maloo seems free of such vices. It rides, even empty or part-laden, with a surprising degree of compliance from both the front and rear ends.

Pack some spare wheels, find a friendly circuit and have a ball, that's the Maloo's raison d'etre

Because the engine and cabin are nearer the front, there's a tendency for people to think that the Maloo's rear is lightly loaded and will be skippier than a bush kangaroo, but weight distribution is, in fact, almost equal between the axles. That helps it to ride and handle consistently, making the Maloo a vehicle with honest, big-hearted tendencies. The steering is pleasing, too; it requires above-average steering effort but is linearly responsive and not without road feel.

It could be a touch more accurate, but it would be churlish to complain because it is at least very well weighted and adds heft nicely as tyre loads increase. We mean it as a compliment when we say it feels old-fashioned. It's a sweet set-up.

'Predictability' is a key word when it comes to the ride and handling. Body control is more than adequate and you know how much the nose is going to dive under braking or what it'll do across compressions and crests. And while no five-metre-long car with a three-metre wheelbase is ever going to be considered agile, the Maloo covers ground engagingly.

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What the Maloo is best at, though, perhaps inevitably, given the mechanical layout, is hanging out its tail to Olympic standards. Get the nose settled, get back on the throttle and it's possible to play games with the chassis in a more failsafe way than in pretty much any other car on sale.

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Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

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