Currently reading: Best cars of 2014 – Vauxhall VXR8 GTS
An Australian-born brute it may be, but we love this slice of muscle car madness all the same

This year the pages of Autocar have been graced by many superb cars, from the affordable and charming Hyundai i10 to the costly and utterly enthralling Ferrari 458 Speciale.

Out of all those cars, though, it’s Vauxhall’s flagship VXR8 GTS that had me looking at residual value forecasts to see when I’d actually, if ever, be able to afford one.

There are, of course, obvious reasons to like the rear-drive GTS. It packs a heady mix of a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 that produces 577bhp and 546lb ft, a six-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential.

It’ll dispatch the 0-60mph sprint in just 4.2sec and reach an electronically limited 155mph. More notable is the fact that the muscular-looking VXR8 costs £54,499 new – almost £20k less than similar-performing offerings from Mercedes-Benz and BMW

It’s the flexibility of the GTS that really makes it stand out for me, though. Want a distinctive car in which to cruise, in comfort, with minimal effort? It’s a great choice for just that. The cabin is well appointed, quiet and spacious, the seats are supportive, the controls aren’t overly heavy and the equipment list is long. 

Then on the flipside of the Vauxhall’s character coin is the bellowing, sideways-oriented super-saloon – and it is accessed simply by rotating the drive mode dial and pinning the throttle to the floor.

Little else comes close to that glee-inducing sensation of feeling the rear tyres stepping sideways as the torque surges through them, even in the higher gears, and you can exploit what’s on offer thanks to the compliant chassis and reassuring yet playful stability control systems. 

The GTS’s charms extend far beyond its mighty performance credentials and involving nature, too. Settle yourself behind the wheel of one of its rivals and you might see a boost or oil temperature gauge, but in the Vauxhall you’ve access to a whole host of readouts – including exhaust flow and individual wheel slip.

A moot point on the move, perhaps, but it’s indicative of the thought that has been put in to make this car really appeal to the enthusiast. Servicing and maintenance should prove affordable and infrequent as well, and aftermarket upgrades will ensure ongoing entertainment when you’ve acclimatised to the performance.

That’s not to say that the GTS is without issue. It’ll manage only 240 miles or so on a full tank and will scorch through tyres at a terrifying rate of knots should you attempt to drive it around a circuit.

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It’s a big car, too. Its dimensions are easily judged and visibility is good, but you can find yourself becoming increasingly preoccupied with what’s coming the other way – or finding large enough spaces in which to park it. 

This is likely to be the last time that you’ll see Vauxhall offer anything like this. The VXR8 GTS is based on the Australian-built Holden VF Commodore, production of which is due to end in 2017.

Consequently, this might be the last of the high-performance rear-wheel-drive Vauxhalls. If that really is the case, this particular line is going out on one hell of a high.

Come back tomorrow as we reveal another star car of 2014

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5wheels 28 December 2014

Totally senseless

But for a day of pure wicked adrenaline rush - yes please - buy one?? no thanks I would be ashamed