For those of you familiar with the automotive show Top Gear (let’s be honest, just about all of you are), you are well aware that the UK version of the show seldom shows American cars. On the rare occasion they do feature an American car, they tend to be a little unkind.
The show has been presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May since 2002, and each of their tastes vary from one another. Jeremy prefers mostly Italian supercars, Richard Hammond enjoys musclecars, while James’ favorites are small, underpowered hatchbacks.
However it seems the only cars that they can all agree on come from Australia. In the past they have featured the Holden Monaro (Vauhall VXR in England) countless times, all singing good praise about it. It is one of the few cars in the show’s ten year history that all three of the English blokes agree on.
After 2006, the Monaro/VXR/GTO had gone away, and that was that. Or was it? A few years ago Richard Hammond tested its replacement, the Vauxhall VXR8 (Holden Commodore), and the Vauxhall/Holden Maloo R8 on the show. It’s an oldie-but-goodie, and we felt it approprate to share in light of the upcoming Commodore based Chevy SS.
Richard starts buy proposing the question: “So if you don’t want a businessman’s sport saloon, what do you do?” Well, if you’re in England, you buy the Vauxhall VXR8. But not just any VXR8, you buy the Bathurst Edition a car named after the rowdy Australian car race. While the earlier versions of the standard VXR8 are equipped with an LS2, it’s the later versions that pack the LS3.
The Bathurst Edition is for those who have no fear and more is never enough. It features a supercharged version of the 6.2L and 550hp from its blown LS3. Oh, and it has “Bi Modal” exhaust that allows you to adjust the sound level while increasing performance on the fly. We love it.
We love the LS3-powered Maloo just as much, and Richard provides us with a little bit of backstory on this Ute as well. It’s essentially a rebadged version of the Holden Maloo. But it’s still very cool watching this Aussie, neo El Camino beat the pants off of an Audi and powerslide while spilling a load of hay onto the Top Gear test track.
The Stig took both cars around the circuit and the Bathurst recorded a 1:26.5, only a tenth slower than an BMW M5, while the Maloo did it in 1:27.1, matching the the time of the Aston Martin DB9. Very impressive machines, these two.