Trundle away from rest in the Vauxhall GTC VXR and perhaps the most striking thing about its dynamics is how deftly it rides. Okay, it’s not a Mercedes S-Class worrier or anything, but you would be pushed to criticise a car rolling on 245/35 ZR20 rubber for riding in such a compliant manner.
The VXR steers smoothly and accurately, too, with good stability around the straight-ahead. Coupled to good refinement, that leaves it feeling like a mature, grown-up kind of hot hatchback. Is it? Of course not. It’s a VXR, for heaven’s sake, so when you wind up the motor, on poor surfaces there’s a little tug at the steering wheel as the limited-slip differential apportions traction, and you’re off.
Pushing the GTC VXR down a well sighted, twisty road is a fast and enjoyable but slightly curious experience. Body control in all suspension modes, but particularly the firmer two, is very tight. There’s a little lean and it rolls quickly, just not very far. And from then onwards in a corner, you can really lean on the VXR.
Our maximum lateral grip figure on the test track of 0.99g mid-corner doesn’t seem to quite do justice to how much mid-corner roadholding the GTC seems to find. There are very few cars, it feels to us, that would keep up with it down a given road. Certainly, it’s fast on a test track; the 1min 16.7sec time we posted around our dry handling circuit was as fast as the last Ford Focus RS.
With that, though, the VXR remains a touch inert. Its cornering all feels like it’s being done by the front end. The rear is faithful, but lift off or turn in while trail braking and there’s very little evidence, even with the stability control switched completely out, that the back end is willing to pitch in.
The VXR’s brakes, while over-servoed at the top of the pedal’s travel, resisted fade indomitably on our test tracks, so you’ll have no bother at all on the road. On a green, recently dried surface, they hauled the VXR from 70mph to rest in a competitive 45.3m, actually slightly longer than on our grippy wet asphalt.