Catch me if you can
Behind the wheel of the world’s fastest ute
THERE’S just one thing more mind-boggling than putting a race-ready supercharged V8 in a humble workhorse ute — and that’s the effect the brutal acceleration has on your skull.
The HSV GTS Maloo is the world’s fastest ute. Even when you have an idea what to expect, nothing truly prepares you for full thrust.
It is so quick my brain can barely comprehend what’s happening. It is fast-forward in real life, with a V8 Supercar soundtrack.
Each gear change brings another shove in the back, the rapid acceleration not ceasing until I dip the clutch to grab another gear. And then it happens all over again.
Meet the Ferrari of utes, brought to us by Holden Special Vehicles, the same
performance car division that looks after Holden’s flagship V8 Supercar team.
HSV has installed the supercharged V8 it fitted to the GTS sedan a year ago in a limited run of cargo carriers. Because it can, and because it wanted to leave a lasting impression when the Australian car industry closes its doors in 2017. After all, could there be anything more Australian than a ute (which, incidentally, we invented in 1933 when a Ford engineer’s wife wanted a car that could be used on a farm then driven to church) with a bloody big V8?
Detractors may ask why the world needs such a car. But there are plenty of other vehicles in this performance league. And HSV has loaded the GTS Maloo with every piece of safety technology available on an Australianmade car.
There is, after all, a speed limit — but there’s no restriction on how quickly you can reach it. The supercharged Maloo can complete the industry-standard 0-100km/h feat in a handy 4.5 seconds. That’s as quick as a Porsche 911.
To keep it in check, HSV also added the biggest brakes fitted to a ute anywhere in the world. The bright yellow calipers and shiny discs the size of pizza trays are bigger than those fitted to a V8 Supercar.
There are also three levels of stability control — to help prevent a skid in a corner —
plus wider tyres on the rear than at the front to improve rear-end grip and a crash warning system if you’re too close to the car in front.
It also has a “torque
vectoring” setup similar to that used by Porsche to control rear grip in sweeping corners.
Anyone concerned about the ability of the ute chassis to handle so much power should fear not. A Toyota HiLux is more slippery in the wet. Trust me, thanks to vehicle bookings and torrential weather coinciding, we drove both utes back to back in the worst conditions Mother Nature could muster.
Once you get to the speed limit, there’s no excuse for exceeding it. The GTS Maloo also has a digital speed readout that reflects on to the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight. Just like a BMW.
If the worst should happen there are six airbags and a fivestar safety rating to protect you. Just like a Volvo.
But all I can think about right now is the sound. I’ve travelled to Bathurst and back for The Great Race the long way, on bumpy potholed roads better suited to workhorses than showponies.
Despite riding on massive 20-inch wheels (also the biggest ever fitted on an Australian-made car) and lowprofile European tyres designed for German autobahns (Continental rubber originally made for MercedesBenz), it rides as if it’s on magic carpet.
It’s quite the opposite of a brutish Holden ute. It’s far more civilised than any Cashed Up Bogan (that’s a marketing term and, as an owner of five V8 utes in 10 years, I count myself among them — except for the Cashed Up bit) could ever imagine.
Faux suede trim on the dash, alloy-look brightwork around the air vents, piano black finish near the instruments ... all go some way to justifying the $90,000 price tag. Well, that and the massive engine, heavy-duty gearbox and race car-style differential with special cooling vanes.
Without doubt the GTS Maloo is yet another exclamation point for the Australian car industry. Anyone expecting Armageddon on the roads, need not worry.
Most of these utes will never be driven as their maker intended. With just 250 to be made (240 for Australia and 10 for New Zealand) most will end up locked away as collector pieces.
And that’s a tragedy akin to keeping Black Caviar as a pony for the kids.
The HSV GTS Maloo is a monument for Australia, that happens to be on four wheels.
Utility belter: HSV’s GTS Maloo can match Europe’s bahn-stormers for performance, power and grip
Pictures: Joshua Dowling