From £43,245
Aussie V8 supersaloon of the old school, with refinements to challenge the Europeans.

Our Verdict

Vauxhall VRX8 2011-2012

The Vauxhall VXR8 is an unsophisticated sledgehammer that is engaging, entertaining and very different from the German super-coupés that it rivals

Steve Cropley Autocar
21 February 2007

What is it?

This is the Holden HSV GTS, an Aussie-built supersaloon with a 423bhp 6.0-litre V8 under the bonnet. And in all but name, it’s the new Vauxhall VXR8.

What’s it like?

It’s the subtleties of this big saloon that I couldn’t quite believe. Not given its size, the punch and the mass of its 423bhp nose-mounted V8, the aggressive styling and the fact that the whole thing has to be built tough enough to cope with some of the world’s worst roads.

Yet in a brief shakedown drive on a selection of lumpy Oxfordshire back-roads the car displayed a delicacy and accuracy in the steering, a flatness and control in its firm ride and a general, impressive stability in tough conditions that would have done credit to one of Europe’s best sports saloons.

Not for nothing does the Holden GTS’s builder, Holden Special Vehicles in Clayton, Victoria, seek comparisons with BMW.

“We reckon it’s as quick as an M5 at half the price,” says Englishman Phil Harding, HSV’s managing director this past six years. He’s not the only Englishman involved, either; since 1987, HSV has been owned by Tom Walkinshaw, formerly of TWR and Arrows F1 fame

The GTS we drove briefly near Tom Walkinshaw’s Oxfordshire HQ wasn’t quite the car we’ll get here in May, but it’s close, especially under the skin.

The UK-spec car — badged Vauxhall VXR8 and priced to start at just £34,995 in base form — will come with 414bhp, a standard six-speed manual gearbox (a six-speed auto is optional), a limited-slip diff, a specially tuned all-independent suspension and four big-diameter discs with four-pot calipers.

Performance is in the seriously brisk category: 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in around 11 seconds and a top speed of 170mph.

The biggest visual differences between Holden and Vauxhall are badges, a few body bits and 20-inch wheels. The Vauxhall will come with 19s as standard. However (along with even bigger brakes and a supercharger conversion) owners will be able to specify the big wheels.

On the road, the car’s 406lb ft of torque and huge power to weight ratio ensure instant thrust, yet it also revs smoothly beyond 6000rpm, not something 6.0-litre pushrod V8s used to do.

But the best bit is the car’s stability and accurate steering, which means it seems to shrink around you. In Britain, given the car’s bulk and raw performance, that may be one of its most vital characteristics.

Should I buy one?

The VXR8 should be near-identical to this Holden to drive. If it is, it’ll be a bit of a bargain.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again
  • Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
    First Drive
    13 October 2017
    Off-road estate is now bigger, more spacious and available with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, but is it enough to make its German rivals anxious?