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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

From the moment the V8’s torsional imbalance rocks this car on its springs at start-up, it’s hard not to love the rogue, mischievous way the VXR8 does things.

It’s evident from the off that there’s not a lot of new-fangled, high-rev feel here, but around town and at low revs, there’s less outward exuberance than you’d think.

Strengthened half shafts and hubs help the back axle deal with all 546lb ft

This engine, remember, is marketed throughout the world and has to meet the most stringent noise and cleanliness levels California, Australia and Europe can throw at it. Its potency comes from its response to the throttle as much as from the muted woofle from its tailpipes.

But what potency. We lined the VXR8 up at the start of MIRA’s mile-long horizontal straight. This car may have a manual transmission of the beefiest, most positive order but there is launch control to go with it, so despite a damp surface, the VXR8 hit 60mph just 4.8sec after lifting the clutch.

And at 13.2sec it passed a standing quarter mile at 112.6mph. Those figures are a touch off the automatic BMW M5 (4.3sec and 12.4sec at 119.8mph), but that had better track conditions and dealt with its own gearshifts.

But what most defines the VXR8’s shove is a rolling start. It’ll accept being dropped into fourth gear at under 20mph. Do so from the start of a mile straight and within half a mile it’ll be banging on the limiter at 140mph before your kidneys have caught up.

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It doesn’t matter what the revs are: you ask, it responds, with a deep, appealing V8 bark and accompanied by the whine of the supercharger. Driveability is superb.

The brakes aren’t half bad either, providing good repeated stopping power even on a (largely) dry circuit. They’re leagues better than the brakes on the previous-gen VXR8.

Don’t be tempted by the automatic. We’ll admit to not having tried it, but the bumf tells us it’s more expensive, slower, makes the V8 even less economical and it doesn’t get launch control. So no thank you.