In life there are two times it’s okay to come last: one, PCOTY. Two, get your mind out of the gutter.
HSV is owed applause for having the guts to enter its GTS Maloo in Australia’s oldest, most respected, least BS performance car competition – a car based on an agricultural load-lugger and with a dirty big donk under the bonnet.
Given how utterly cracking the GTS sedan is, in theory the GTS Maloo made sense given it has the sedan’s engine, rear-end, brakes, rubber – everything, minus its Magnetic Ride Control.
Unfortunately, however, the GTS treatment doesn’t translate to ute quite as well as it does sedan.
In some ways the most impressive part of the GTS sedan isn’t its power but rather the advances in grip and suspension performance over its HSV siblings. So for the GTS ute to miss the tricky dampers surely contributes to steering that feels unable to wed 430kW of V8 with 1875kg and three metres of wheelbase. It just isn’t sharp enough.
The exhaust, too, sounds a little watered down and sawdusty in the company of the also blown V8 I’m-gonna-bite-your-face-off F-Type.
Woolly steering and apologetic exhaust note aside, the GTS Maloo is a monster in both oomph and stomp.
Six-pot calipers bite 390mm front discs and 372mm rears. The GTS Maloo might weigh so much it should be wearing a cravat, but bend the brake pedal at 100km/h and in just 34.44m you’re kaput. Or third outright for braking, beating STI, M4 and Golf R. A ute!
On the track, while the Audi RS7 is off melting its megadollar carbon-ceramics, the Maloo GTS’s brakes neither complain nor, importantly, fade. All the while, the pedal feel perfectly blends firmness with bite. Whoever made these brakes deserves a trophy.
It’s just as feral in a straight line as its sedan sibling, too: 4.46sec to 100 and a 12.54 quarter. So memo BMW: your newfandangled M4 has been blasted into the weeds by a bright green thing from eastern Melbourne.
That said, some judges dared suggest the GTS Maloo didn’t feel its full 430kW. The 405kW F-Type did numbers and felt far punchier than its 200-kilo weight advantage would suggest.
And on track, you quickly tire of chasing tenths in the GTS Maloo. The QE2 wheelbase, tight diff and 740Nm at 3850rpm mean it’s far more fun, ESP off, winding opposite lock in and out.
The GTS Maloo will cackle along with you, and that’s where its real talent for entertainment lies. As for coming last, it beat every car that’s not here.
January issue, out now
For the complete Performance Car of the Year story, including full performance data, check out MOTOR’s January issue, on sale now on newsstands or iPad.
Get your free weekly report from the world of fast cars - subscribe to the MOTOR newsletter!