The changes made to the GTS’s cabin as part of HSV’s GTS-R upgrade are few enough but the contrasts struck by the car’s driving environment compared with that of most modern super-saloons are many.
The large, comfortable and deeply bolstered sports seats are mounted medium-high, making the driving position feel a bit antiquated.
You feel as if you sit slightly high and perched at the car’s controls, which are nonetheless fairly well positioned, with enough room between the three pedals in the driver’s footwell – count them, by gum – for easy operation even by an Outback sheep farmer in size-12 hobnail boots.
You get diamond quilting on your leather and Alcantara sports seats here and, HSV claims, a smattering of richer materials and new decorative trims on the fascia, although we struggled to recognise many of them.
And yet you get a lovely, tactile, Alcantara-upholstered steering wheel that didn’t escape our road testers’ attention – and nor did the standard-fit head-up display, which can even be made to relay lateral g loading.
Just as in the GTS, you use HSV’s tunnel-mounted Driver Preference Dial to hop between driver modes (Touring, Sport, Performance and Track), which configure the powertrain, damping, steering, torque vectoring and traction control systems to best suit the use you’ve got in mind for them.
Once you’re bored of fiddling with that, there’s plenty more amusement to be found in the car’s Enhanced Driver Interface drive computer, which has a procession of video-game-like menu screens full of information on things like lap time, yaw rate, slip angle, throttle position, boost pressure, coolant temperature and just about anything else you might want to be distracted by.
This is a big saloon car and it provides plenty of room for four adults. The boot is sizeable, too, and although you don’t get proper folding seat backs to expand it fully, there is a large ski hatch for longer items.
The VXR8’s 8.0in infotainment system looks and feels like it belongs on a decade-old car – and understandably so. Its display looks low of resolution and it often takes a while to respond, although it is at least a touchscreen system.
There’s no smartphone mirroring here and very few internet-connected features – and on a £70,000 car, you’ve a right to expect much better. But you do get a nine-speaker premium Bose audio system that sounds more than adequate and it will also stream audio from your phone via Bluetooth – and Vauxhall’s MyLink smartphone interface system grants limited app-based web connectivity to streaming sites like Stitcher.
HSV’s Enhanced Driver Interface system is linked into the car’s sat-nav for what looks like pretty rudimentary lap time data logging, although we didn’t have time to fully test it. It’s fair to say that the likes of Porsche and Mercedes-AMG do this kind of thing much better – as you’d expect them to. But it’s also fair to say that nobody buys a VXR8 for the infotainment.