Vauxhall VXR8

V8-engined saloon looks the part – but is that it?

  • When treated smoothly VXR8 flows well in corners. Build and material quality aren’t as far behind the German cars’
  • VXR8 suspension can get the jitters, isn’t as composed as others we have driven. Lots of grey plastic inside, Isofix child seat mountings aren’t included.

There’s nothing subtle about the Vauxhall VXR8 – it’s a conventional saloon, but its size and collection of spoilers and sills ensure this is no shrinking violet. It has finesse, too, having already beaten the Jaguar S-Type R andChrysler 300C SRT-8 on our recent test.

Granted, the styling is far from sleek or sophisticated, but the VX has a charismatic engine. While the low-tech V8 doesn’t feature the latest valve timing and cannot rev nearly as high as rivals, its 6.0-litre capacity packs a proper punch – and sounds glorious.

It helped the 1,831kg VXR8 return acceleration times to match the Audi and Porsche, blasting from 0-60mph in only five seconds. However, the big powerplant wasn’t as responsive, and its long gearing made the car feel rather lazy.

The six-speed manual gearbox was clunky and the brakes juddered badly on rough roads.

Compared with the more honed opposition, the VXR8 comes across as an underdeveloped machine. The steering is more vague, there is lots of body movement and travel in the suspension, and the chassis isn’t especially stiff, with steering kickback an issue. The Australian Vauxhall serves up plenty of guts and determination, but it’s short on talent in this company.

In its favour, space and comfort are strong points. All the seats are generously proportioned, although the driver’s is mounted a bit high, with visibility hampered by the intrusive A-pillars and rear wing. The design and layout are better executed than you might expect, and standard kit is easily the most generous here – making the £35,105 VXR8 seem even better value.

Details

Price: £35,105Model tested: Vauxhall VXR8Chart position: 4WHY: Can the saloon-only VXR8 get the better of its much more sophisticated German opponents?

Economy

Here’s a surprise: the VXR8’s low-tech unit did better than the cutting-edge V8s. With long gearing and relaxed manners, it beat its claimed combined figure, hitting 19.2mpg

Residuals

On the used market, the VXR8 is likely to follow the Monaro’s lead and hold on to something like 42-44 per cent of its value. That represents a drop of about £20,000.

Servicing

Only 32 of Vauxhall’s 500 UK dealers can service the VXR8. Visits are required every 10,000 miles, which takes the edge off the low prices we were quoted.

Tax

Uncertain long-term running costs make the VXR8 nearly as pricey to own as the Cayman S. And CO2 emissions of 365g/km won’t endear it to the green brigade.

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