Vauxhall Vectra

The fastest Vectra that Vauxhall has ever built has hit the UK! And, following on from our international drive in issue 882, we couldn't wait to see how the newcomer would shape up on British roads - so Auto Express grabbed the keys to one of the first right-hand-drive models.

Not for the shy or retiring, the Vectra VXR is brashly styled, brightly painted and, if driven hard, a bit rough around the edges. Audi's A4 2.0T quattro and the Ford Mondeo ST220 offer a far more composed driving experience for similar money. However, neither can match the brawn of the VXR. The powerful turbocharged V6 has plenty of character and gives the Vectra massive acceleration. For many buyers that will be all that's needed to justify the high price tag.

The fastest Vectra that Vauxhall has ever built has hit the UK! And, following on from our international drive in issue 882, we couldn't wait to see how the newcomer would shape up on British roads - so Auto Express grabbed the keys to one of the first right-hand-drive models.

Straight away, it's clear that the Vectra VXR is an extreme machine. Deep air intakes, big spoilers and 19-inch alloys make for a brutal-looking saloon, particularly when painted bright metallic blue.

Under the bonnet is a 255bhp 2.8-litre V6 turbocharged power-plant, hooked up to a close-ratio six-speed gearbox. Lowered suspension, adaptive electronic dampers and bigger brakes complete the package. The V6 engine's searing punch and great throttle response ensure that the VXR feels every bit as quick as the claimed 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds and 161mph top speed suggest. Shame, then, that the gearbox is clunky and can't be rushed.

And take a corner too quickly and the car's limitations become all too apparent. Despite the Vauxhall's clever dam-pers, there's lots of wheelspin in the lower gears under hard acceleration, but little steering feel. The Vectra is more at home on fast, sweeping bends where you can use the torque and enjoy the taut ride. But if it's straight-line speed you're after, the VXR won't disappoint.

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