AUSTRALIA is not known for being a major car producing country but a vehicle from Down Under I have just been testing attracted more attention than any car I have ever driven - and it was only a pick-up truck, writes Bryan Longworth.
But this was a very special pick-up being the Vauxhall VXR Maloo and in its bright yellow livery and outrageous bodywork it looked a bit like a real jet flying machine. Its acceleration time of 0 to 60mph in 4.9 seconds was quicker than many exotic sports cars including some from Porsche!
The mighty Maloo, which is Aboriginal for thunder, is made in Australia by Holden HSV and it holds the world speed record for a pick-up truck!
This is not really surprising for lurking under the bonnet is a mighty 6.2-litre 431bhp V8 petrol engine driving the rear wheels through a six speed manual gearbox which packs a massive punch.
In fact the engine had so much torque it was possible at times to drive the Maloo in much higher gears than is normal with most cars which also helps to save fuel - apart from when I was enjoying the full speed potential of this amazing vehicle.
Vauxhall expect to sell about 50 Maloo at £51,500 a year. But it is difficult to say who will buy it apart from Premiership footballers who spend a lot of their millions on exotic and expensive motoring machinery.
Maximum speed is limited to 155mph and the combined fuel consumption is listed at 21mpg but this can drop to around 10mpg if the massive power unit is really hammered - a big temptation.
Maloo is strictly a two seater but there is a large covered load area at the rear as in all pick-ups although I doubt if it will be used much for carrying the sort of building and gardening materials normally carried in such vehicles.
I really enjoyed my all too brief time with the Maloo which had the natty and desirable number plate “DE51RED” especially the precise steering system which rates among the best I have come across along with the roadholding and handling qualities and that amazing acceleration.
The similarity to being in a jet aircraft is enhanced with reference in the Press material to a powertrain with launch control, a screen which shows data about G-forces affecting the driver and reference to the “sailplane” styling behind the cab.
I liked the cabin with its leather seats and digital speedometer right in front of the driver clearly showing the speed but the handbrake was distinctly not very user friendly.
The Aussies might not be as well known for their cars as they are at cricket, rugby and their love of a tinny but they are to be congratulated on producing a one off like this, a car so exciting there is nothing else like it. An anglicised Aussie even came over at my local supermarket car park and patted the bonnet saying it was nice to see a Holden in Pom land!
My Verdict: The wonderful whizzer from Oz!