From £43,245
Aussie super-saloon gets a 7.0-litre engine from the Corvette Z06

Our Verdict

Vauxhall VRX8 2011-2012
The Vauxhall VXR8 is a Holden Commodore in its native Australia, but its styling it all-Vauxhall

The Vauxhall VXR8 is an unsophisticated sledgehammer that is engaging, entertaining and very different from the German super-coupés that it rivals

12 December 2008

What is it?

If you thought the Vauxhall VXR8 was a bit special, you should see this. It’s the Holden Special Vehicles W427.

The HSV W427 has been partly built to commemorate the 20th anniversary of HSV cars (the 1988 Commodore Group A SV homologation special was the first).

But the HSV W427 has also been built because Australia’s Holden Special Vehicles, owned by Tom Walkinshaw, has been able to get its hands on some 7.0-litre Corvette Z06 engines. Holden reckons the current-generation Commodore can handle the LS3 V8’s 503bhp and 472lb ft.

The W427 (W for Walkinshaw, 427 for cubic inches) is quite a serious installation job by HSV standards.

Usually Holden’s Adelaide factory fits the powerplants on the regular line and leaves HSV’s Melbourne facility to finish the job, but here the 7.0-litre engines are delivered straight to HSV in crates from the US.

So in HSV’s plant the factory motor has to come out before the new one is fitted, along with a dry sump, new intake manifold, HSV-specific ignition mapping an active-valve exhaust.

There are some pretty serious suspension changes, too, including magnetic dampers and, by HSV’s affordable-brute standards, a serious price of around $155,000 (about £70,000, depending on the exchange rate).

What’s it like?

Anyone who’s a fan of the VXR8 (and that includes me) will love this car. At idle the valve in the active exhaust is open, so it woofles and burbles like a 7.0-litre V8 ought to. The drivetrain is slick, with a manageable clutch and a new, stronger but slicker-shifting six-speed gearbox.

And by crikey is it fast. HSV claims 0-62mph in 4.7sec, which is quick in itself, but it would probably go even faster with a quicker gearbox and more traction.

The engine is astoundingly flexible, though. This is a very torquey motor, yet it also revs cleanly out to 7000rpm, past peak power at 6500rpm. Despite the extra capacity over other HSVs it feels no more unbalanced.

Because of the extent of the changes to the suspension, the W427 feels much tighter than a regular VXR8, with sharper, more accurate steering and better-controlled damping, with no massive drop in ride quality.

There’s a ‘track’ mode to the damping, too, but it’s good enough to use even on lumpy roads. The W427 is a bit fidgety with it on, but it steers and handles with even more precision.

And of course, the W427 has a beefy limited-slip differential. So, of course, it pulls big, smokey skids to Olympic standards.

Should I buy one?

I’m afraid that, unless you live in Australia, you can’t. They’re all destined for HSV-mad enthusiasts down under. The W427 is expensive, but still significantly undercuts M5s and the like in Australia, so all 90 scheduled to be built in 2008 sold easily. Production is limited to 427 units overall.

HSV says none will come to the UK, which is a shame. But give them a call. They could probably be persuaded.

Join the debate

Comments
14

12 December 2008

I am sure this is a great car....but how wrong for the times is it.

Why is a GM subsiduary spending money on a project like this when they are in the c**p.

reminds me very much of the rear wheel drive MG ZT V8 - fat lot of good that little foley did them.

12 December 2008

[quote jonfortwo]Why is a GM subsiduary spending money on a project like this when they are in the c**p.[/quote]

Strictly HSV is no actually anything to do with GM, it's majority owned and run by Tom Walkinshaw. In fact in Oz they are sold as a separate brand, in much the same way Brabus is for Merc.

What a fantastic car! If it stiffens the current car and makes it sharper, then great. The lack of focus has always been my criticism about the standard HSV Clubsport / VXR8.

They're slogan in Oz is "I just want one....." - and I do!

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

12 December 2008

Sorry to be a party pooper but could this thing be any more irrelevant? Just a question!

12 December 2008

[quote kerrecoe]Sorry to be a party pooper but could this thing be any more irrelevant? Just a question![/quote]

Fair question, but ultimately an empty one...this car is no more irrelevant than a Prius (which I happen to drive as my everyday car...no, not coz it's a statement thing, but coz it's damn cheap to run as an everyday car).

Thing is, cars like these mad souped-up Holdens are a) absolutely stonkingly insane fun to drive, and b) make me laugh at knobs who think cars like the M5 are the best thing since sliced sauerkraut.

12 December 2008

Hairy muff Mr MacNeil.

I knew the answer to the question anyway if truth be known- just stoking the fire, as it were. :-)

Having said that- just not getting the Holden thing. 1990's Omega's? 1980's Cav's? I don't know...

12 December 2008

Nice car, not realy relevent to the times, and i would have the M5 over this most days

12 December 2008

[quote kerrecoe]Having said that- just not getting the Holden thing. 1990's Omega's? 1980's Cav's? I don't know... [/quote]

Ah well, to get the big Holen thing, you (at the very least) need to have lived in OZ ferrawhile and driven them. Aussified Omegas and Cavs they ain't. If anything, the bigger Vauxhall's have always struck me as limp-wristed Pomified Holdens.

They're in the Aussie blood, these big Holdens. Stuff like the 1970s Holden GTS (basically a Vauxhall Victor/Ventora shell with a big V8, nicer paint, sexier exterior, nicer interior and less rust). Or the Holden Commodore. I used to love the way that even basic spec mid-90s Commodores had a tasty 5 litre V8. No really a lot quicker than a well sorted 3 litre Senator (at least up to 100mph), but so much nicer sounding, and fun handling when riding on a live rear axle.

12 December 2008

There you go see Dan- missed the whole Holden thing on account of being a northern hemisphere dweller. It was 1.6 Cav's for me! That'll learn me.

13 December 2008

Well its not going to the UK so it shouldn't really matter. Ford and Holden are the back bone of the aussie petrol head culture, and quite a few people would only be seen driving one or another.

Anyone who has driven an HSV/VXR8 will tell you they are huge amount of fun, and when considering an M5 is $200,000+ the local heroes are (dollar for dollar) some of the best sports saloons in the world. HSV are just showing what they can do with a HSV GTS. And I really do want one....

13 December 2008

£70,000?!?

This over an RS6?!!

Not a hope!

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