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Commonwealth of Nations. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

Commonwealth of Nations
Vauxhall's VXR8 has its origins in Australia and is on sale in Britain to add some muscle to the top of the VXR range.

   



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| A Week at the Wheel | Newport, Wales | Vauxhall VXR8 |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

It's difficult to know what to make of the VXR8's styling. It's certainly different, and undoubtedly muscular, but perhaps not as cohesive as we'd like. The front bumper, with its black inverted trapezoidal air intake lends real aggression to the face, a theme that is continued into bulging front wheelarches, which are amply filled by the 10-spoke alloys.

Commercial vehicles aside, the VXR8 is the longest Vauxhall on the price list, though it is well proportioned and the cooling vents behind the front wheels visually disguise the length. The smooth rear end is less expressive than the front, despite the presence of a large wing and quad exhausts, and though it is certainly noticed, the four-door profile isn't quite as obvious as its predecessor's coupe-shape was.

In terms of style, the VXR8's cockpit is definitely a notch above its Monaro predecessor, but it's a mixed bag and nothing at all like the rest of the Vauxhall range. The handbrake, for instance, is horrible to use, the plastics in general quite brittle and the flat-bottomed steering wheel still too big to be enjoyable. However, it's well equipped, comfortable and massively spacious no matter where you are sitting. The large boot only adds to the practical nature of the VXR8.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

It is likely that most people that will buy the VXR8 will do so because of the all-American 6.0-litre V8 under the bonnet. I don't need to tell them that it sounds like its own mini-NASCAR race, with a deep-chested growl throughout the rev range topped off by a spine tingling roar as you approach the redline. Unlike V8s of old, this one revs too, though it's best to slot a higher gear and use its considerable torque instead of wringing ever last rev out.

Consequently, gearchanging is never a hurried affair, which is just as well, as the shift is on the heavy side and as relaxed as most other Australians I've met.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

The Monaro surprised us with its cross-country ability on our favourite B-roads. Although body roll was pronounced, the upshot was excellent ride comfort. Allied to that, the torquey nature of the V8 allowed controlled power slides whenever the mood took you. For the most part, the VXR8 follows the same strategy. It's remarkably comfortable, especially at speed, and there is feel through the large steering wheel too. Its brakes are better than the Monaro's were though and body roll has been significantly reduced. However, it seems to us that some of the body control has been lost, which means it pitches around while the dampers and springs attempt to keep the body level, causing a little discomfort to passengers. The car's portly 1,800kg kerb weight doesn't help either.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

Despite being a far from perfect muscle car, the VXR8's purchase price is staggeringly low, with the manual car not much more than £35,000. The only official options are an automatic gearbox and satellite navigation, though there are exhaust and suspension upgrades available from Walkinshaw Performance too. Given the unusual nature of a 6.0-litre V8-engined, four-door saloon in Britain, it's difficult to rate its value for money by any normal means. Its performance is comparable to such greats as the new BMW M3, if not its execution.

Let's not dwell on the fuel "economy" either. Needless to say, Ken Livingstone would probably ban all VXR8s from entering London if he discovered their CO2 emissions...

Overall: star star star star star

Vauxhall's VXR8 remains a unique proposition in the UK, with no direct rival. Comparisons to the BMW M3, Mercedes C 63 AMG and Lexus IS F are not really valid; yes, it offers a similar level of performance, for a lot less money, but it hasn't got the sophistication of this trio, nor the polish. The Vauxhall VXR8 is an absolute bargain, but that will only matter to a small number of buyers. We salute them!

Shane O' Donoghue - 16 Apr 2008



  www.vauxhall.co.uk    - Vauxhall road tests
- Vauxhall news
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2008 Vauxhall VXR8 specifications: (manual)
Price: £35,210 on-the-road.
0-60mph: 4.9 seconds
Combined economy: 18.5mpg
Emissions: 365g/km
Kerb weight: 1831kg

2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.

2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Vauxhall.



2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2007 Vauxhall VXR8. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 






 

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