MAYBE IT was a mistake reading the brochure, because as we all know they’re cleverly designed to either suck you over the line to actually purchase the thing or make you feel good while you wait for it to arrive. It was working.
There we were pondering how many transports of delight we’d have to flog to pay for a 30th Anniversary Maloo R8 LSA.
Even the cold light of morning, wandering out with the proximity key, did nothing to dispel the feeling. The glaring seventies colour is a quick slap across the eyes and the styling shouts muscle and aggression. In the brochure, it’s described as “Australia’s ultimate workhorse”. Codswallop.
It’s a bloody great toy.
At the heart of the enterprise is the LSA engine, out of the upper shelf of the Chevrolet armoury. Based on an LS3, it runs a considerably stronger block along with pistons and cooling specifically designed to cope with the forces created with the Eaton supercharger sitting atop the whole enterprise. Power is a claimed 410kW (550hp), which is more than enough to get your attention – particularly since it rained most of the time we had the thing!
Your transmission options include a six-speed Tremec manual (stock) or six-speed paddle-shift auto ($2500 option).
Our example had the Tremec, which was slick with a typical modern short action. In these days when manuals are looking like an endangered species, you’d be tempted to stick with it in part because it’s likely to be a better resale proposition if or when the car reaches classic status.
Okay, so with a somewhat feral V8 in the snout and a manual shifter to play with, this is all sounding a bit old skool. Yes and no. The heads-up display is the first contradiction that gets your attention, then the dial-a-ride set-up that alters the behaviour of assorted performance aids, then the touch screen for entertainment, sat-nav and so-on.
Being a Year 30 model, it gets some upgrades, including power (up 10kW), and Torque Vectoring that works in collusion with the ESC to keep things pointing in the right direction. Oh, and there’s an updated bi-modal exhaust system.
The blurb says, “This change is sure to please all HSV enthusiasts for whom the sound of an HSV V8 is almost as important as the performance it delivers.”
Jab the starter and you’re greeted with a lively racket with a secondary cackle from the exhaust. Yep, we’re awake.
What can you say about a road car with 550 horses? Of course it’s quick. The power delivery is nevertheless perfectly predictable and you can drive it in peak-hour without smacking into things.
It’s not something you’d let your 18-year-old second cousin loose in, but anyone with a degree of self-control and a reasonable amount of experience will be fine.
Plant the loud pedal, even briefly, and there’s a fair bit of bellowing going on as the horizon is rolled up pretty rapidly. Great fun. The Maloo is well-planted, with decent suspension that provides a good mix of ride quality and control. Steering is not the most inspired or sharpest we’ve come across, but it grips beautifully and you get a real sense of security in this thing.
Our example had the accessory six-piston brakes on board (a $3500 option) The cabin’s a pretty good place to be. Lots of leather and touches such as 30th anniversary badging are scattered liberally. This is not a cheap vehicle and I don’t think you’d feel cheated if you’d just handed over the readies.
Downsides? It loves petrol, so be prepared to take a few bruises at the fuel pump. Also, the rear view is extremely limited, so the built-in reversing camera is an absolute essential. Oh, and it’s not cheap. You’re looking near enough to $80,000.
One of the good folk at HSV described the Maloo as the corporate sports car – two doors, serious power, all the handling goodies, and I agree.
Workhorse? Nup. Fun? Hell yes.
ENGINE Supercharged 16-valve 6.2lt LSA V8 POWER 410kW @ 6150rpm TORQUE 691Nm @ 4200rpm 0-100KM/H 4.5s (est) WEIGHT 1850kg GEARBOX 6-speed manual or auto BRAKES Discs all round SUSPENSION Independent WHERE HSV.com.au PRICE $80,000 plus ORC