A fast farewell to an Aussie hellraiser

Top Gear drives the fastest commercial vehicle available in the UK, the soon-to-be-discontinued, 544-horsepower Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo ute.

In the eyes of the world outside Oceania, the Holden ute is that most Australian of icons, on par with Vegemite, 'Banjo' Paterson and the call of the kookaburra.

The 'coupe utility' pickup debuted in 1951 with perhaps the least alluring name in motor-vehicle history - '50-2106' - but quickly won favour in its homeland, spawning successor after ever-more-successful successor, right up to the present day.

Top Gear's Ollie Marriage recently had the opportunity to wrestle with the highest evoluton of the species, the mighty Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo, a £54,520 rebadged version of Australia's beloved Holden ute, worked over by HSV, the brand's designated speed shop, Holden Special Vehicles (HSV).

But this isn't merely the latest Holden ute - "It's the last Australian pickup," writes Marriage. "Holden is ceasing production of the Maloo ute - and all other models - as its Melbourne plant is being closed."

So it's the end of the line for a Down Under icon. Ollie's parting thoughts on the mighty Maloo? "Comical and pointless," he writes. And yet... "This is a pick-up you can actually manage and drive and enjoy on the public road, it's not just a hooligan drifter, but a reasonably engaging driver's car."

On its powertrain

This last-of-the-line, two-seat, big-motor-up-front, big-space-out-back pickup is powered by a 6.2-litre supercharged V8. It's the same basic motor that underpins the Chevy Camaro ZL1, and here develops 544bhp and 495lb ft.

The Maloo disobeys just about every rule of how to create a fast-launching car.

The rear tyres aren't that fat, there's no weight over the back axle, it's got a manual gearbox, the gearing's long and lazy and it's rear drive-only.

Read the full article here