From £66,5009
It's big, brash and brilliant fun, the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS. And it's that character that prevents the super-thirsty supersaloon from becoming an irrelevance
Autocar
8 March 2014

What is it?

The Vauxhall VXR8 GTS is an anomaly, if we’re being serious about the relevance of a 576bhp rear-drive saloon fashioned in what is undoubtably a fairly old school manner.

It’s big, it is not subtle, it looks quite scary and it has a boost gauge. It is not a slick German. It’s a hybrid of the Holden Commodore and a Chevrolet Camaro, with that car’s thumping 6.2-litre V8 enhanced by a big old supercharger. There are no other cars like this on sale in the UK, or Europe, really. 

That’s not to say that this new VXR8 GTS is crude, because it isn’t. It has a lot more tech than the VXR8: torque vectoring, a fearsome looking set of upgraded brakes, launch control, all sorts of switchable performance modes, and underneath the admittedly rather noticeable exterior lies a thoroughly reconstructed drivetrain, based on a Camaro LS3 engine but extensively mucked about with to create this car. 

The interior has been tweaked, too, with new materials and instruments.

What's it like?

So much fun. On paper it looks like you’d need to boot it to the redline to extract all of that 576bhp, but really the power delivery is so linear and consistent and ever so slightly overwhelming that you’d never notice. It just hammers its way round the rev counter at immense pace, Work your way through the four Driver Preference modes, from Touring through to Track, and the car gets progressively more aggressive and off the leash.

And louder. Quite a bit louder.

There are some truly delightful noises to be created from the engine, all of it meshing very nicely with the car’s mechanical nature. You always feel directly connected to the bits that make the thing go faster and slower, from the pleasingly weighted gearshift to the excellent brakes. 

And, perhaps oddly, it’s quite well mannered. It rides surprisingly well, at least on well-maintained French roads, but even over the odd bit of cracked, potholed surfacing it didn’t thump or crash about. It isn’t too much if you just wanted to get somewhere, and the prospect of a long journey wouldn’t seem daunting. 

In fact, the whole car feels as if it’s on your side. It’s benign and stable when you need it to be, but can be so easily provoked into sliding about when you want it to. It shrinks on tiny roads, and feels so much more agile than anything of this size (4988mm long) and demeanour should do.

The one thing that doesn’t work quite so well is the steering. It’s a bit inconsistent, offering feedback dead spots and slightly odd weighting when you’re not expecting it. 

Oh, and the interior is, well, a little chaotic. There’s an awful lot going on in there, from the crowded dials with their multitude of oversized arrows marking the increments to the fiddly touchscreen and that boost gauge. Which you can’t see because it’s just in front of the gear lever, which is where they would have put the ashtray 20 years ago. Occasionally you get a reminder that somewhere underneath all of this engineering it’s part Holden Commodore, too - the doors are a bit tinny, the plastics a bit thin and hard. 

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But that’s like damning a perfectly cooked piece of fillet steak because the bearnaise sauce is a bit light on tarragon. It doesn’t really matter, as the rest of the car is well judged, and properly engineered, by blokes with pencils behind their ears. It feels as if it has been built, not programmed.

Should I buy one?

At this point I suppose we have to mention the BMW M5 or the Mercedes E63. There. They’ve been mentioned. That will be all there is to say about those cars, because the VXR8 GTS isn’t the same.

It comes from a very different place, conceived and built in a very different way, and the result is a very individual and charming car. Spending £55,000 on a car is quite a commitment, but there is nothing else out there for that money that comes close to the VXR8’s combination of power, speed, practicality (yes, really) and sheer entertainment. Yes, it’s going to use an awful lot of petrol.

Yes, it’s going to divide opinion, and there will be people who hate it. But in a way, its most impressive trick is how its capability saves it from becoming an anomaly. If you can, do. 

Dan Stevens

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS

Price £54,499; 0-62mph 4.2sec; Top speed 155mph (limited); Economy 18.5mpg; CO2 363g/km; Kerb weight 1882kg; Engine V8, 6162cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 576bhp at 6150rpm; Torque 545lb ft at 3850 rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Tuatara 9 March 2014

Big dinosaur saloons

Unlike Australia and New Zealand, big saloons seem to be out of vogue in the UK and Europe where they have been replaced by the SUV and MPV.

Probably explains why Ford are in no hurry to introduce the new Mondeo.

disco.stu 8 March 2014

Calais body would look nicer.

Personally I'd like to see the mechanicals underneath a regular Holden Calais or Caprice bodyshell, without the HSV bodykit. Would look much better rather than completely OTT. The HSV look works well in Australia, where there are thousands of regular Commodore models all over the place, but over here it seems unnecessary.

Would still have one in a heartbeat, though. And just ship over the Calais body bits privately, along with some Holden badges to replace the inferior Vauxhall ones...

Matthew Langton 8 March 2014

This car is totally

This car is totally irrelevant in this day and age, the same as all the mercs and bmws in the same size category. Looking at the sheer size of those seats you could only assume they were built for those ugly over weight white collar fat pigs with bear guts that have not seen there privite parts for a long while.......it's disgusting......it's really is. Cars in this class are just fat over weight hunks of useless metal that should be placed on the scrap heap ASAP. A total waste of time and money you will never get back. Best to burn them and be done with it and put them out of the publics misery.
EngageSportMode 8 March 2014

Matthew Langton wrote:This

Matthew Langton wrote:

This car is totally irrelevant in this day and age, the same as all the mercs and bmws in the same size category. Looking at the sheer size of those seats you could only assume they were built for those ugly over weight white collar fat pigs with bear guts that have not seen there privite parts for a long while.......it's disgusting......it's really is. Cars in this class are just fat over weight hunks of useless metal that should be placed on the scrap heap ASAP. A total waste of time and money you will never get back. Best to burn them and be done with it and put them out of the publics misery.

The fact it seemingly elicits such a response as the above from people is probably an even greater reason for it to exist, rather than it not.

artill 8 March 2014

Matthew Langton wrote:This

Matthew Langton wrote:

This car is totally irrelevant in this day and age, the same as all the mercs and bmws in the same size category. Looking at the sheer size of those seats you could only assume they were built for those ugly over weight white collar fat pigs with bear guts that have not seen there privite parts for a long while.......it's disgusting......it's really is. Cars in this class are just fat over weight hunks of useless metal that should be placed on the scrap heap ASAP. A total waste of time and money you will never get back. Best to burn them and be done with it and put them out of the publics misery.

Matthew, i hope when you leave school you get a good job, and one day can afford a car like this. Then you will be in a position to judge the car. Do you hold the same feelings for people who live in houses bigger than your parents? Or who fly to their holiday destinations?

As for the car i think its a little OTT, but as its the only one of these large powerful saloons with a manual box its obviously the only one to consider (for me). I for one am very pleased it exists, and i hope they find a way of making them after they close the Factory in a couple of years.

WarrenL 8 March 2014

Matthew Langton wrote:This

Matthew Langton wrote:

This car is totally irrelevant in this day and age, the same as all the mercs and bmws in the same size category. Looking at the sheer size of those seats you could only assume they were built for those ugly over weight white collar fat pigs with bear guts that have not seen there privite parts for a long while.......it's disgusting......it's really is. Cars in this class are just fat over weight hunks of useless metal that should be placed on the scrap heap ASAP. A total waste of time and money you will never get back. Best to burn them and be done with it and put them out of the publics misery.

Jealousy gets you nowhere, Matthew. Anyway, V8s are for men, not boys. Perhaps when you've actually driven one you'll understand...