We have yet to drive an HSV fitted with the new LS3 6.2-litre V8 (introduced in April), but it will have to be very, very good.
That’s because its predecessor, the LS2 6.0-litre V8 unit with its dynamic performance and accommodating driveability, is one hard act to follow.
These virtues are no better demonstrated than in the Maloo R8, GM’s ultimate dress-up ute.
The Maloo (which is an Aboriginal word for ‘storm’) is HSV’s second biggest selling model.
Place 307 kW of power and 550 Nm of torque in a stiff, but relatively light (1852 kg) chassis and body and you are bound to have an outstanding performer.
The Maloo pulls away in any gear, and will even trundle along in sixth at 60 km/h. Cruising at 100 km/h sees the tacho needle resting lazily on just 1600 rpm, with the resulting fuel economy being15.0-litres/100 km.
Put your foot down and that figure quickly evaporates, but then the Maloo pays out another rich dividend by delivering driving satisfaction and enjoyment.
The Maloo shares the multi-link rear suspension used in the HSV E sedan series, but is fitted with stiffer springs, and this makes for an even more dynamic drive.
While firm, the Maloo offers up a ride that makes it hard to believe this is a ute.
The gear shift and clutch have a heavy-duty feel in keeping with the performance character.
The ‘throws’ between gears are short and sweet, but the change from first to second sometimes threatens to glide across the gate into fourth.
There is a huge amount of grip, thanks to the low-profile rubber on wide alloy wheels, but the trade-off is intrusive rumble over coarse chip roads.
The steering is beautifully weighted and responsive.
If you have plenty of ‘go’, then you need the ‘whoa’ to match, and this the Maloo has in racing standard brake discs and calipers.
Inside, the sporty fit-out matches the exterior. Standard equipment includes sports leather seats, thick steering wheel with audio controls for the six-disc CD player, climate controlled, cruise control, parking sensors and automatic wipers.
Standard safety gear takes in front airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic brake assist with brakeforce distribution.
The low seating position, broad ‘B’ pillars and streamlined hard tonneau cover, as conspire to produce poor visibility when reverse parking and changing lanes.
But it’s a small price to pay for what is a beaut ute.