The Vauxhall VXR8 is familiar in parts and all new in others, but while it used to be a £35,000 bargain, the price has crept up to more than £50,000 for some versions, and that puts it straight in the path of the BMW M3 or Mercedes C63 AMG.

Does this diminish the ultimate Vauxhall’s appeal? Not one bit: fast saloons have always been cooler than their two-door counterparts, and with genuine room for four the VXR8 has all the makings of a cut-price BMW M5 or Audi RS4 alternative.

It’s certainly more exclusive. Vauxhall expects to sell just a handful of the VXR8 GTS saloons in the UK, and a few less of the special order VXR8 Clubsport saloon and estate, and the VXR8 Maloo pick-up.

Based on Holden’s latest VE series Commodore, the VXR8 benefits from improved weight distribution (51/49 per cent front/rear), a five-link rear suspension, a stiffer bodyshell and quicker-witted steering.

Turning the workaday Holden saloon – where even the entry model gets a 3.6 V6 – into a super-saloon falls to Holden Special Vehicles, which has upgraded the brakes, engine and suspension, and fitted aggressive bumpers and an indiscreet boot spoiler.

Vauxhall claims the first UK buyers are coming from Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evosentirely understandable when you see the VXR8 in profile. There’s no question that it comes from the ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ school of styling.

Yet for all the talk of new-generation Commodores and multi-link suspension, the VXR8 remains a steel-bodied car powered by an engine producing just 69bhp per litre. Effective and characterful, perhaps, but hardly cutting-edge.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    23 March 2018
    Fully-loaded, big-hitting diesel CLS shows the potential perils of ticking too many options boxes on your order form. A good car with a bad suspension combination.
  • BMW M5
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    Super saloon deploys four-wheel drive to improve every facet of its driving experience. Faster and more capable than any, and more exciting than most, of its celebrated predecessors
  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim
  • Nissan Leaf Tekna
    The is the new Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new version of the world's best-selling electric car gains a bigger battery and more power. How does it compare to rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf?