The Vauxhall VXR8 is an unsophisticated sledgehammer that is engaging, entertaining and very different from the German super-coupés that it rivals
What is it?
You know the Vauxhall VXR8? In its domestic Australian market it’s called the HSV Clubsport R8, and this is the estate version: the HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer.
HSV is Holden Special Vehicles, and is to Holden (GM’s Australian arm) what Alpina is to BMW.
HSV is an independent operation that tunes ordinary Holdens, but gets access to cars during development. It gets cars fresh from the production line prior to giving them the HSV treatment.
This includes some unique bodywork, new wheels, brakes, exhausts and suspension tuning.
The mechanical make-up of the HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer is similar to the VXR8 we get in the UK; a rear-drive chassis powered by a 6.2-litre V8 with 425bhp.
Usually, Holden’s estate is based on a long-wheelbase version of the saloon (the Commodore). This time, however, Holden wanted a European feel to the wagon, so the Tourer is more or less the same size as the VXR8 saloon.
What’s it like?
It’s better than the VXR8. Because the development work was done after the saloon, the chassis tweaks are a tad more sophisticated; think of it as VXR8 version 1.1.
The Clubsport R8 Tourer’s springs and dampers are stiffer than the saloon’s because it’s meant to be able to carry a heavier load in its well-designed, spacious load bay.
The extra carrying capacity hasn’t ruined the ride, though. The HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer is a nicely composed car with tight body control. It’s not quite as sophisticated in feel as, say, a Mercedes C63 AMG or BMW M5 Touring, but the R8 Tourer’s a lot cheaper. It’s fast and very well balanced too.
Should I buy one?
It would be nice if you could buy one. As with most fast estate cars, the Clubsport R8 Tourer is easily as appealing as the VXR8 saloon, but Vauxhall isn’t interested in taking it officially in the UK (lest it should tread on the toes of a GM Europe model).
It’s possible to import an R8 Tourer personally though. If you did, you would have one of the most charismatic fast estates around.