Increased engine capacity but still no challenger to AMG or M division

What is it?

It’s the Vauxhall VXR8, largely as we’ve always known it but now sporting GM’s new LS3 engine instead of the old LS2 unit. That means an increase from 6.0 to 6.2 litres, a modest power gain (411bhp to 425bhp) and, er, not a great deal else.

Oh, you get an oil cooler if you choose automatic transmission (shame on you), you can now order it in white and with 20in wheels, and they’ve made major revisions to the interior… well, they’ve changed the oil temperature gauge; everything else is unchanged.

What’s it like?

You will not be surprised to learn that the latest Clubsport R8 (as it’s known Down Under) is remarkably similar to the old one. Its power delivery feels slightly smoother, particularly between 3000rpm and 5500rpm, where its revs are delivered a little more freely than before.

But its performance is not even a modest step up from the old car; 14bhp doesn’t count for that much in something weighing over 1800kg, after all.

The chassis is ‘as you were’, so the big Vauxhall has debatable levels of traction (especially in the wet) and surprising amounts of lateral grip. When the rear end does break away mid-corner, it does so in a relatively progressive manner. Think of it as a friendly grizzly bear; damned entertaining, but always capable of tearing you to pieces.

At least you’ll be comfortable until it does, because the VXR8’s interior – one of its real assets – is as good as ever. Yes, fit and finish aren’t up to BMW or Merc standards, but there’s bags of room for four fully grown adults and their luggage.

Throw in a large fuel tank, well sorted damping and a decent stereo and you have a capable long-distance cruiser, providing you can live with 20mpg.

The test vehicle also had a Walkinshaw Performance V8 Supercar exhaust. It’s awesome fun for five minutes, but thereafter the 110dB noise level, over-run crackles and cabin boom just become tiresome.

We’d advise the mid-spec ‘performance exhaust’ instead, if you do want more volume over the standard model.

Should I buy one?

If you were taken with the VXR8 first time round then there’s nothing to diminish that affection here. Equally, though, the LS3 does not make the VXR8 any more of a genuine challenger to AMG or M division.

It’s a £35k oddball – but if you can get over the idea of spending that amount of money on a Vauxhall, then it’s a charming, good-value option.

Join the debate

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Penny9966 11 August 2008

Re: Vauxhall VXR8 6.2 V8

Could this be the 'Aussie' M5:

This monster is based on the range topping HSV GTS (a top spec VXR8) and packs the 7 litre Corvette engine, giving the car just shy of 500bhp (370kw is roughly 496bhp). The price is $AU150,000, or going on today's exchange rate £70,000. I would have mine in black.

Penny9966 10 August 2008

Re: Vauxhall VXR8 6.2 V8

julianphillips wrote:
There was certainly no mention of competing with the M5's and AMG's or anything like that, the rivalry is purely with the Ford equivalent. It really is a different type of car.

Exactly. Those who need more proof visit the V8 Supercar (the Aussie Touring Car Racing) website here...

ys 10 August 2008

Re: Vauxhall VXR8 6.2 V8

The R8's main rivals are not the M5 etc, to some extent it's a rival for the STI / Evo. I would like to own a R8 unfortunately the local road tax system (I live in Singapore now) and petrol prices don't favour cars with big engine so I settled for an Evo. I have lived in Australia for 7 years and really enjoyed the performance of the V8s, especially the much improved handling over the past decade . I miss them! Now I am paying annual road tax of 500pounds for the 2-litre Evo and would have to pay more than 3000pounds for the R8 if i drove one!