Vauxhall storms in

with new VXR8

VXR8 GTS front action
VXR8 GTS rear action
Vauxhall VXR8, interior
Vauxhall VXR8, side
Vauxhall VXR8, static
Vauxhall VXR8, head-on
Vauxhall VXR8, front
Vauxhall VXR8, static
Vauxhall VXR8, action

FOUR years after it first appeared on UK roads, Vauxhall's storming VXR8 GTS is back with heavily revised front and rear-end styling, a new cabin and new technology under the eye-catching skin.

Priced at £49,500, the new VXR8 is based on the Australian-built HSV's E3 GTS model and the previous VXR8 remains on sale in the UK as the lower-spec ClubSport R8 at £45,000.

That means it still undercuts full-size super saloons like the Audi RS6, Jaguar XFR and Mercedes E63 AMG by between £13,000 and £29,000. It's also cheaper than the likes of the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG.

The latest GTS has what Vauxhall call a ‘Shockwave' grille, LED daytime running lights and sleek new wing-vents at the front, while the rear features a new large ‘Superflow' rear spoiler, LED tail lamps and twin exhaust tips that mimic the shape of the front grille.

The fourth generation 6.2-litre LS3 engine produces 431PS and a massive 550Nm of torque, enough to propel the VXR8 from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds and on to a governed top speed of 155mph.

Drive is delivered to the rear axle via either a new MM10 six-speed manual gearbox with uprated LS7 clutch, or a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The VXR8 now comes with magnetic dampers and launch control to sharpen responses and offer drivers a choice of refining their driving style between performance or track settings.

Inside, drivers and passengers have full leather trim and front occupants are cocooned in special HSV Performance Seats with eight-way electric and manual adjustability.

A new instrument cluster and surround, centre stack and switchgear also includes aux/USB inputs, iPod support and Bluetooth with phone book display and touch-screen dialling.

Vauxhall has introduced EDI, or Enhanced Driver Interface. EDI connects with the on-board computer to stream real-time vehicle dynamics and performance to the car's main five-inch monitor.

At the touch of the screen, drivers can access a variety of data such as vehicle G-forces, power and torque and lap times - even the angle their VXR8 is drifting.

Completing the clever package is the ability for drivers to download data, such as track day performance, and analyse it using the MOTEC i2 software provided.

There will be two more variants in the near future, the Maloo pickup and the Sports Tourer at £47,000.

If you love muscle cars, then flex your wallet for the VXR GTS.

It packs a heck of a punch when given its head but this close-cropped competition-wannabe does not come with a bone-breaking ride even in the track setting.

Push the button for the performance mode and it is slightly more compliant if not quite as edgy, but you'd hardly see any deterioration on country roads.

Room inside is excellent, the half-electric front seats are figure hugging and surprisingly comfortable, working well with the multi-adjustable column to give any desired driving position.

Over a comparatively short distance I saw it return 17mpg (the official figure from Vauxhall is 20.9), which puts it into the super-car league but if you include the fact it will seat five, that makes it more economical per occupant than many high performance and less practical two-seaters.

Those with long enough memories might compare it to the famous and iconic Lotus Carlton. The VXR GTS is expensive for a Vauxhall, but it's cheap for the supercar it is. 



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