HSV Maloo R8 LS3 2008 Review

HSV Maloo R8 LS3 2008 Review


With utes of old there used to be a line item in the brochure called ‘Brakes and steering’, next to which it said ‘Sort of’. Meet HSV’s Maloo R8 — it’s the ute that thinks it’s a Porsche. It has brakes and steering in abundance, along with enough power to pull the skin of a galactic-sized rice pudding.

The Maloo has the shoulders of Atlas, and you feel like you own the world. Unfortunately those shoulders kind of limit the view to the left and right, creating the most enormous blind spots. This could be very easily cured by HSV by fitting some convex mirrors. Until then, drivers have to use luck charms and psychic abilities (or take a really good look) before pulling into another lane.

From your driving perch the dashboard and seats are pretty much straight out of the Clubsport R8, and therefore of reasonable quality. The seats are sporty enough, but not so tight that the more amply hipped drivers will feel squeezed. Dashboard controls revolve around the large screen that shows air conditioning and stereo functions.

For what is essentially a sports car, the steering wheel is still slightly too large and the accelerator pedal is hinged at the bottom and not ideally positioned for heel-toe action.

There are some useful netted cabin storage binnacles behind the seats, but it would be nice to see some kind of storage you could put a laptop or other valuables in, other than the flat bed where things slide around like Torvill and Dean during Bolero.

External styling carries through Atlas’s shoulders and onto his washboard abs. It’s bold, even in white, from its deep front splitter, back to the trapezoidal vents just in front of the rear wheels, and the quad exhaust pipes that nestle in the rear diffuser. The HSV Maloo is all muscle, and it has the legs to match.

Instant endorphins are what the Maloo provides with a sonic injection of 6.2-litre LS3 noise that sounds like you are ripping the cloak of Beelzebub himself with the massive 550Nm of torque. It sounds every bit as good as the Clubsport R8 sedan, if not better. It’s the one area in which HSV is much, much better than FPV.

So while we’re on the subject of FPV, how does its Super Pursuit offering stack up against the Maloo? In my opinion, the Maloo just wins out in overall experience. It’s slightly more comfortable, it feels quicker, the sound is glorious, and the styling is meaner (as an example, the Super Pursuit’s rear wheels sit too far inside the bodywork, making it look ‘under-endowed’ in the wheels department). The Maloo’s driving position is not as good as the Super Pursuit, though. Also, the steering wheel needs a rethink, and the FPV’s traction control is slightly more progressive and subtle when clamping down on the wheelspin.

What we have is a car that says “I’m ready, ladies,” but it won’t appease the local constabulary — the kind of donuts they like aren’t the ones that the Maloo can create in abundance with its 317kW.

What you need with this petrol-fuelled largesse is a substantial set of stoppers. 19-inch wheels (not practical for a tradesman, but stunningly nice nonetheless) conceal slotted brake discs so enormous that if you left one in the middle of the Nevada desert the US Military would think a UFO had crash landed.

Those that buy utes tend to want to occasionally do ‘ute-y’ things in them. I decided I’d help a friend move house. With the hard tonneau you can’t really load the Maloo up with anything tall. I managed to get a rowing machine and queen-sized mattress on the tray, but couldn’t get the lid down — one of the advantages of the soft tonneau covers.

The six-speed manual Maloo R8 is a car that will mix it with some serious exotica. Acceleration to 100kph feels like it’s firmly in the mid-5s, and with its steamroller-sized tyres there’s serious grip. It sonically assaults your ears, physically assaults your senses and generally makes a grinning idiot of you. I like that.

Price: from $73,000 (6-speed manual or 6-speed auto)

What we like

  • Noise
  • Styling
  • Performance

What we don’t like

  • Blind spots
  • In-cabin storage options


Front: 365mm ventilated discs. Four piston calipers
Rear: 350mm ventilated discs. Four piston calipers
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Incorporating Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA)


317kW, 6.2 litre LS3 Generation 4 alloy V8 Standard
Power (DIN kW) 317kW* @ 6000rpm
Torque (DIN Nm) 550Nm* @ 4600rpm
Recommended petrol – octane rating 98 RON PULP. Note that using 95RON (PULP) or lower will not cause any problems, but will result in slightly less engine performance and economy.


317kW, 6.2 litre LS3 Generation 4 alloy V8 Standard
Power (DIN kW) 317kW* @ 6000rpm
Torque (DIN Nm) 550Nm* @ 4600rpm
Recommended petrol – octane rating 98 RON PULP. Note that using 95RON (PULP) or lower will not cause any problems, but will result in slightly less engine performance and economy.
Linear Control Suspension
Sports Touring Suspension
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) incorporating
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
– Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) – Traction Control System (TCS)
Suspension Front: MacPherson strut Direct acting stabiliser bar.
Progressive rate coil springs
Rear: Multi-Link independent rear suspension (IRS).
Progressive rate coil springs. Stabiliser bar
Steering Variable ratio rack and pinion
Track: Front: 1592 Rear: 1590
Turning Circle (kerb to kerb, m) 11.4


6-speed Manual Transmission Standard
6-speed Automatic Transmission with active select Option
Limited Slip Differential with HSV specific ratio Standard
Gear ratios 6-speed Manual / 6-speed Automatic Standard
1 3.01 / 4.03
2 2.07 / 2.36
3 1.43 / 1.53
4 1.00 / 1.15
5 0.84 / 0.85
6 0.57 / 0.67
Final Drive 3.7 / 3.27


Dual zone electronic climate control: driver and front passenger

6.5″ multi-function display colour LCD screen. Displays stereo, heating and air conditioning information. DVD player and Satellite Navigation compatible

Power windows. Driver and front passenger windows express down

Front centre sliding armrest with leather trim

Vanity mirror, driver and passenger.

Sunglasses holder (except where sunroof fitted)

Satin Chrome finish interior door handles


Steering wheel height and reach adjust

Leather wrap HSV unique Sports steering wheel

Multi-function steering controls for:

– Sound system – Trip computer

– Bluetooth phone – Satellite navigation (where fitted)

Multi-function driver display, featuring:

– Trip computer information – Sound system information

Priority key. Stores settings for:

– Climate control – Sound system

– Trip computer – Speed alert

– Headlamp and interior lighting time delay options

Alloy faced pedals

Leather wrap gear selector

Cruise Control

Rear Park Assist

Power exterior mirrors

Road speed dependent intermittent wipers

Automatic headlamp mode. Switches on at twilight or low ligh

Headlamps auto-off feature (variable delay)

Trip computer with triple display, including:

– Average speed – Odometer/Tripmeter/Trip time

– Distance/Time to go – Average fuel consumption

– Digital speedometer – Visual and audible speed warning

– Tracks two trips simultaneously (eg. Short day trip within long interstate trip)

– Fuel used/range

Service reminder. Appears 1,000km before service is due

HSV Sports instrument cluster


HSV sports triple center gauges (Voltage, Oil Temp. and Oil Pressure)

Sound system able to accommodate mobile phone kit. Auto mute when in use

Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity

Satellite navigation     Option


HSV Performance seats with cloth trim

HSV Performance seats with leather trim (Onyx)     Option

4-way electric drivers seat

Adjustable driver and front passenger seat lumbar support


Blaupunkt AM/FM stereo

6 disc Five speakers. Total 150 watts

Speed dependent volume control


Twin cup holders in centre console

Centre console storage compartment


Front projector fog lamps
Front driving lamps
Projector headlamps
HSV Performance sail plane
HSV Remote locking hard tonneau (not watersealed)
HSV unique tail gate
HSV Performance body design
Quad exhaust outlet
Metallic Paint     Option


19″ x 8″ front alloy wheel with 245/40 R19 98Y tyre
19″ x 9.5″ rear alloy wheel with 275/35 R19 96Y tyre
20″ x 8″ front alloy wheel with 245/35 R20 95Y tyre     Option
20″ x 9.5″ rear alloy wheel with 275/30 R20 97Y tyre     Option
Full size spare wheel and tyre (as per front wheel and tyre)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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