Vauxhall VXR8

The 2011 version of Vauxhall's tail-happy sports saloon was on display at Goodwood, and we drove it up the hill to find out what's new.

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The VXR8 has never been subtle – and the latest revisions have made it stand out even more. The big Vauxhall has bags of character and real ability, with its 6.2-litre V8 and a chassis that’s more capable than ever, thanks to new magnetic dampers. Throw in a tempting price, and it makes a good case for itself – as you get a lot of car for the cash. But running costs are high, and it won’t win over buyers used to an Audi, BMW or Mercedes. If Vauxhall makes further exterior and interior updates, that could change.

The thunder from down under has been given a facelift! The brutish Vauxhall VXR8 launched in 2007, having started life as a Holden HSV Commodore. Now, it’s been under the knife – and Auto Express got the chance to test a pre-production car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

It’s always stood out from the crowd, but the revised model has an opinion-splitting new front bumper with a pair of LED running lights and fresh grille. Extra bonnet vents help cool the big 6.2-litre V8 powerplant, while everything is finished in new black detailing.

The rear benefits from much the same treatment as the front end, with a revised bumper, fresh diffuser design and new exhaust tips. The look is far from subtle – although by the time the car is launched, this look could be updated further, says Vauxhall.

Inside, the comfortable, supportive seats and generous equipment of the original VXR8 are carried over. Material quality isn’t as strong as in models from Audi and BMW, but expect this area to be improved, too.

As for the rest of the VXR8 experience, what you see is what you get. This is a four-door with monstrous performance. The Vauxhall’s most 
entertaining ingredient is its Corvette-sourced V8 engine, which produces 425bhp and 550Nm of torque. This provides immense pace, with 0-60mph taking only 4.9 seconds and a 155mph top speed.

Even with the standard exhaust, the mighty V8 makes a great noise when pushed hard – although thanks to the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox, it can be civilised, too. There’s no getting away from the super-saloon’s size, but new magnetic dampers and raised supension settings improve handling and comfort.

The VXR8 stops and steers with confidence, and offers traditional rear-wheel-drive appeal. Manual cars will get launch control, too. If 
you’re after a meaty muscle car that can turn heads as well as transport families in comfort and keep drivers entertained, then the big Vauxhall V8 is worth a look.

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