First Drive: Vauxhall VXR Maloo

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This isn’t the pick-up for cost-conscious businesses, and it’s certainly not a rival for smaller single-cab vehicles like the Fiat Doblo Work-up.

Being sold in small numbers from five specialist Vauxhall dealers, although 30 will be able to service it, the VXR Maloo is an Australian-bred 6.2-litre V8 supercar commercial vehicle.
The single cab pick-up will find limited scope for business in the UK, but an elite number of companies seeking to combine making an impression with the need to carry equipment securely may find it appealing.
It certainly succeeded in making an impression, although that was in part thanks to the Hazard Yellow colour that adorned our test vehicle. The big, meaty front-end looks great, and is far from subtle, with long LED daytime running lights as well as those large vents feeding the big V8 engine. That engine, though, doesn’t make as raucous a noise as you might expect from looking at the quad rear exhaust pipes – the big, hairy-chested pick-up emits more of a low, menacing rumble.
The cabin is the most luxurious and comfortable a production pick-up has ever had, with dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, rear parking camera, tyre pressure monitoring, and USB and aux input sockets all included. Sumptuous, big VXR-logoed seats dominate the space, along with a chunky steering wheel that still bears the logo of Vauxhall’s Australian sister brand Holden. 
The lengthy load bay is lined and lit, and shielded by a hard tonneau cover that’s hinged at the cab and opened via the remote central locking keyfob. However, that flared tonneau cover, along with the narrow, rear window, hampers rearward visibility, particularly on motorways, although the side mirrors provide a reasonable view of what’s going on behind.
On the road the V8 delivers power in a lazy way, never with an explosion but with a constant strong pull, while the gearchange, via a chunky lever, is heavy.
For those of a nervous disposition about running costs,
it’s time to hide behind the sofa now: an official average fuel economy of just 21.0mpg is about as low as it gets for any vehicle, let alone a pick-up, while we were recording less than 17mpg in mixed driving.
But it’s certainly more fun than other pick-ups. The huge 431hp of power propels the VXR Maloo as rapidly as you could want, making the 4.9-second 0-62mph time seem accessible, although you’d have to use the standard launch control system, not something you find on many pick-ups, that optimises the getaway to achieve it.
Brilliantly unlike any other light commercial vehicle, Vauxhall’s VXR Maloo will be instantly ruled out by the majority of businesses, but there will be one or two specialists where visual impression is a key part of their impact, where the temptation of a ridiculously illogical yet hugely alluring Aussie ‘ute’ could be the answer. It’s certainly fair to say there’s nothing like it to compare it with. But maybe there’s a reason for that.



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