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.
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.
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