The beauty of magnetorheological dampers, so the theory goes, is that they are able to provide the best bits of both a car’s ride and a car’s handling.
A multitude of sensors monitor wheel speeds, steering, throttle and braking inputs and the amount of travel on the dampers, and can then stiffen or loosen them, around 100 times a second, by magnetically adjusting the viscosity of the damper fluid.
Sometimes such systems are a bit iffy, but HSV has tuned the VXR8 GTS beautifully. In recent times the VXR8 has been a good ride and handler, but now it can hold its head high among anything in the class. It steers fluidly and linearly (only a couple of spots of inconsistent weighing let it down) and it rides impressively in any of its various damper modes given the 275/35 rear tyres on which it sits.
But it’s the keenness that goes with these traits that genuinely impresses. It would be easy to think that a 1880kg, full-size Aussie saloon would feel bulky and awkward, but the VXR8 flows down a British B-road as if it were tuned for it.
Okay, we’re not talking Renault Mégane RS levels of chassis control, but the Vauxhall has the measure of a BMW M5 or, to our hands, a Mercedes-Benz E63 (although that car impresses more as a straight-line hot rod).
But this deftly controlled blend of ride and handling makes the VXR8 a remarkably appealing car to drive on all roads, twisty or straight – the latter where it steers calmly and is leggy enough to return 24.6mpg. And does it oversteer in the right circumstances? Of course it does.