Vauxhall VXR8 GTS review

Muscle car is now fitted with paddleshift auto transmission

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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.

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.

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain
Lexus NX - front action
Lexus NX SUV

New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain

The new Lexus NX 350h features a standard hybrid set-up, while the NX 450h+ gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of 40 miles of pure electric powe…
12 Jun 2021
LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini
LEC MINI Electric
MINI

LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini

The conversion sees the Mini’s A-Series engine replaced with a dinky electric motor and a 20kWh battery for a range of 70 miles in the city
10 Jun 2021
Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features
Audi S5
Audi

Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features

Almost every car in Audi’s line-up has received a tweak, with major updates including Amazon Alexa integration and a Sonos stereo
11 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'
Honda opinion
Opinion

'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'

Mike Rutherford is worried about Honda's future, despite its recent motorsport success
6 Jun 2021
Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?
A red Ford Mustang Mach-E parked
Advertisement Feature

Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?

Thinking of getting a new company car? Here’s why you should consider putting the Mustang Mach-E on your shortlist
11 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition 2021 review
Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition - front
Volkswagen T-Cross

New Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition 2021 review

The small Volkswagen T-Cross SUV turns on the style in new Black Edition trim
11 Jun 2021