While rival manufacturers tweak chassis set-ups and experiment with limited-slip differentials, Vauxhall just keeps fitting VXR rocketships with larger afterburners. Take the latest Vectra VXR as a prime example. The previous-gen model was hardly slow, with 252bhp on tap and a 0-60mph time of 6.5sec. But for 2007, the family hatchback and cavernous estate get a tweaked version of the same turbocharged V6, which now pumps out 276bhp and 259lb ft. That cuts four-tenths off the 0-60mph time and increases the top speed to 161mph. Eeek.
What's it like?
Vauxhall says chassis and damper settings have been altered to cope with the extra grunt but the Vectra sticks pretty closely to the VXR script: stiff suspension meets raw grunt, raw grunt wins on a points decision.
On motorways, you could be forgiven that the contest is heading for a score draw. In ‘regular’ mode, we found the Vectra an effortlessly fast tool, happily occupying the fast lane while wafting along on a wave of torque around 3000rpm.
Hit the ‘Sport’ button, though, and things become considerably more frantic, but not necessarily better. The engine response and handling fall over themselves to deliver, so you end up with an edgy, nervous package that will torque steer for Britain on decent-surfaced, straight roads, let alone country lanes.
Behind the wheel, there is no escaping the fact that you’re still driving a Vectra; it’s automotive white goods, with nothing to make you feel special.
Should I buy one?
As a genuinely rapid motorway cruiser with the option of a hooligan button, this new Vectra VXR makes a surprisingly convincing case – more convincing still now that it's got that bit more poke. And while £25k is a lot for a Vectra, it’s hard to imagine anything else at that money offering this much raw pace and space. Just don't expect comfort or subtlety – especially when you reach for that dreaded button.