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Vauxhall VXR8

Vauxhall

Review

I’m not buying into the claims that Vauxhall’s VXR8 is a cut-price BMW M5. Aside from the fact that they’re both massively over-powered and are four-door saloons, there’s little these two super-saloons share in common.

The M5 incorporates a huge amount of hi-tech features (there are myriad programmes for the speed of the gearbox shifts, for goodness’ sake) and trades on its Formula One links.

Whereas the VXR8 is a rebadged Holden from Australia, and it’s a proper Ocker Aussie with it.

There’s no room here for fancy-dan electronics or seven-speed gearboxes – what the VXR8 offers is a huge, throbbing, characterful 6.0-litre V8 engine at its heart, a far more overt sporting appearance and an honest outlook than the M5.

The appeal of the latest Vauxhall VXR is simple – floor the throttle, enjoy the music coming from under the bonnet, breathe in the smell of burning rubber and do your best to control the rear tyres which are sliding away in a vain attempt to get the power down on the road.

I practised this formula time and time again – every traffic light gave good reason to bring out the beast in me and the car.

But the VXR8 is not all about showboating – it’s a seriously quick bit of kit, too.

With 417bhp you really don’t need anything above third gear for acceleration before you start entering silly speed (and licence-losing) territory.

It also looks the part with an aggressive bodykit clothing an angular and attractive base car.

Even with its low £35,105 price tag, though, company car tax bills are going to be on the heavy side thanks to sky-high emissions.

But who cares?

Vauxhall VXR8

Behind the wheel

The VXR8 is a big car – it looks and feels on a par with the old Vauxhall Carlton, and inside the feeling continues.

There’s masses of space for five adults and a ginormous boot, so you could say the VXR8 is practical.

But then you turn the big V8 engine over, blip the throttle a few times and suddenly any thoughts of practicality disappear.

This is a serious performance car, and on the move the snappy throttle action and heavy-duty gearbox remind you of this constantly.

This is no lithe sporting machine. Instead it epitomises the old American adage that “there ain’t no substitute for cubes”.

A BMW M5 would undoubtedly leave it for dead on a cross-country road thanks to its much higher level of electronic trickery, but you can guarantee that the smile on the Vauxhall driver’s face would be broader.

Verdict

Only an ardent petrolhead with a soft-spot for Down Under would consider running a Vauxhall VXR8 as their company car.

But for those few who do make that decision, they will get a great looking, affordable, characterful and hugely enjoyable sports saloon.

Fact file

Model: VXR8
Max power (bhp/rpm): 417/6,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 405/4,400
Max speed (mph): N/A
0-62mph (secs): 4.9
Fuel consumption (mpg): 18.5
CO2 emissions (g/km): 365
Prices (OTR): £35,105
On sale: Now

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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