Vauxhall claims not only that the GTC VXR is the fastest car in the class, but also that it will duck under the 6.0sec barrier in a sprint to 60mph. To which we say: that may well be true, but you’ll have to have left any semblance of mechanical sympathy behind when you signed on to the circuit.
At our test track, we coaxed the VXR to 60mph in 6.4sec. We did manage a one-way best of 6.2sec – with two people on board and a near-full tank, remember – but if you make any serious attempt to go quicker than that, you will have to ignore both the smell of a suffering clutch and the nagging feeling that you won’t be able to drive it home afterwards.
The 0-100mph time of 16.5sec, meanwhile, looks – and is – impressive in isolation. However, VXR owners are, we’re told, a fairly extravagant bunch who like their cars to be fast – and to that extent, we have a little bad news. This GTC is no quicker to 100mph than its predecessor was.
For all that, it remains the most powerful hot hatchback in its class. And its in-gear acceleration is certainly noteworthy. Any car that can dispatch 50-70mph in fourth gear in less than four seconds is at the sharper end of the scale. It makes an extraordinary whistling noise while doing it, too; from the outside, it leaves you thinking you’ve just been buzzed by a jet fighter.
However, the throttle response – unless you push the VXR button on the dash – isn’t so sharp. At low revs in Normal or Sport modes, there’s some lag. Engaging the VXR mode sorts that and brings with it a welcome crispness we’d rather wasn’t confined to the firmest damper setting.