Skip advert
Advertisement

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS review

Muscle car is now fitted with paddleshift auto transmission

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Find your Vauxhall VXR8
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Hassle-free way to a brand new car
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

The VXR8’s automatic transmission isn’t the last word in hi-tech engineering, but it’s smooth enough and works well when used in combination with the paddleshifters. However, in a car that’s geared towards driver thrills, we’d be inclined to opt for the manual version and pocket the £1,725 difference in price. The saving would certainly come in handy for the fuel bills.

Advertisement - Article continues below

If you’re looking for some old-school, hairy-chested driving fun, the Vauxhall VXR8 takes some beating. Featuring a muscular supercharged V8 engine, playful rear-wheel-drive handling and vast four-door body, it’s a cut-price alternative to the Mercedes-AMG E 63 and BMW M5.

In an effort to further broaden the thunderous VXR8’s appeal, Vauxhall has added the option of a paddleshift automatic transmission. The six-speed unit bucks the current trend for sophisticated twin-clutch systems in favour of a traditional torque convertor unit. 

Yet while this approach isn’t exactly cutting-edge, it doesn’t affect the way the VXR8 performs – Vauxhall claims the newcomer will blast from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds, which is exactly the same figure as the manual version.

However, on the move, the paddleshift version feels a little lazier in its responses than the standard car. The transmission slurs automatic changes smoothly enough and it responds crisply to the steering paddles, but the torque convertor’s slipping effect takes the edge off the V8’s strong low-speed response. 

On the plus side, in manual mode the gearbox allows you to hold on to gears all the way to the engine’s red line, and above 3,000rpm the Vauxhall accelerates with the same ferocity as the manual model. 

Elsewhere, the infectious character is unchanged – and that includes the thumping, supercharged V8. Boasting 576bhp and 740Nm, plus a bellowing soundtrack, the Chevrolet Camaro-sourced engine is bursting with muscle car charm. Yet the VXR8 marries genuine chassis sophistication to the engine’s old-school approach. 

Standard magnetic ride adaptive dampers deliver strong body control, while the steering is naturally weighted and progressive, letting you place the big Vauxhall with confidence. And with its traditional rear-drive layout and thumping torque output, it’s easy to tailor the VX’s line through a corner using the throttle.

Select the car’s ‘Tour’ mode, however, and the suspension softens, resulting in a supple ride. Refinement is good, too. But the car’s existing weaknesses remain. The cabin is vast, yet feels cheap and looks garish compared to premium rivals. The same is true of the exterior, with its ‘look at me’ spoilers, scoops and air vents. Then there are the rather scary running costs. And it may be a cut-price M5 and E 63 rival, but it still looks expensive at £56,000.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Tesla slashes Supercharger membership cost with 42 sites now open to all EVs
Tesla Superchargers
News

Tesla slashes Supercharger membership cost with 42 sites now open to all EVs

Tesla has cut the costs of its Supercharger Membership, which grants access to lower charging rates, by £2 per month
19 Apr 2024
The average UK car is now 9 years old, as drivers delay replacements
Ford Fiesta Titanium front
News

The average UK car is now 9 years old, as drivers delay replacements

41.4 million vehicles are on the road, but they’re getting older faster than they’re getting cleaner
19 Apr 2024
Best small SUVs to buy 2024
Best small SUVs - header image
Best cars & vans

Best small SUVs to buy 2024

There's a huge range of small SUVs out there, so we’ve picked out the very best
19 Apr 2024