Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The GTS-R’s dying-breed status is detectable in the weight and tactile feel of almost every one of its controls; in every delicious crack and flaw of its bleeding heart, blood and thunder motive character; and in so much of the wonderfully idiosyncratic way that it goes about flinging its 1.9 tonnes at the horizon when you really stretch its legs.

To observe that they really don’t make super-saloons like this any more is, of course, to recognise how much the fast four-door executive has changed over the past decade or so.

The GTS-R traction control’s Track mode allows just enough slip out of longer corners

But it’s also to salute the supremely genuine, singularly analogue and wonderfully engaging driving experience of the VXR8 GTS-R.

In an era of four-wheel-drive, paddle-shift-equipped performance saloons crammed to the roof with advanced chassis technology intended to make ever increasing speeds ever more easy to achieve, the GTS-R asks you simply to clock on and play your part – to give in order that you might receive – before returning on your investment incredibly vividly.

Anyone minded to write this car off as some irrelevant throwback, though, should first experience how good its electronic traction and stability controls are.

Finding launch control here feels a bit like finding a laser gunsight on an Edwardian battlefield catapult, and it’s not a system you can get the best from at your first attempt.

Our performance figures were recorded on a chilly day, on slightly damp tarmac; and even with launch control enabled, it took several sets of attempts to gauge the right amount of throttle and revs to use (plenty), how abrupt to be with the clutch (very), and exactly when to manhandle the heavy, short gearlever through the gate (only once the needle’s hit 6000rpm).

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But after investing some time, you realise you can be as bold as you like with the power once the clutch is out, leaving the traction control to subtly feather engine torque and curb wheelspin.

The GTS-R has long gear ratios, and also not as many of them as the average 2018 super-saloon – and yet it overcomes both disadvantages to feel genuinely fast through the upper half of its rev range.

The 4.8sec 0-60mph sprint it recorded, in damp conditions, matched precisely what we saw from a VXR8 GTS in 2014 on dry tarmac; but the GTS-R was more than half a second quicker to 100mph than its range-mate, and some four seconds quicker to 150mph.

Rivals allow you to go even quicker, sure, but they don’t reward you in anything like the same way. And they don’t beguile you with even half as much bristling V8 audible drama or unreconstructed physicality, either.