What is it?
Important things first. More than anything, what you’ll want to know about the Vauxhall VXR8 Tourer is that it’s officially the most capacious estate car on sale in Britain, right?
Good. Then you’ll be pleased to read that it has 895 litres of load volume with the rear seats in place, rising to some 2000 litres with them folded. If you’re looking for a big boot, look no further. Buy with impunity; you needed something this big.
The VXR8 is, as I’m sure you’re aware, a British-badged version of the Holden Special Vehicles Clubsport, a car that’s effectively on run-out in Australia, given there’ll be a new Holden Commodore later this year.
So the VXR8 wagon arrives here in the UK with, like the similarly rebadged saloon and Maloo pick-up, a 425bhp version of GM’s 6.2-litre LS3 V8, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox (there’s also an auto option) and a limited-slip differential.
What's it like?
That powertrain, plus a 2915mm wheelbase, switchable stability control and 405lb ft means sideways. Lots of sideways.
No, the VXR8 isn’t the most sophisticated £50k estate you’ll sit in, and neither interior materials nor their presentation will give German cabin engineers cause to worry.
But the VXR8’s is a functional cockpit, your passengers will have to admit, and they’ll be duly impressed by some neat touches, including a central screen that can be configured to show what rate of g, and even yaw, you’re pulling. And let’s be honest, it is vast inside. They’ve got to appreciate that.
It rides, too, the VXR8, despite running on 20in rims and 35-profile tyres. Actually, there is sophistication here, because the strut front and multi-link rear suspension are equipped with magnetorheological dampers, which smooth the ride in a straight line and firm up while cornering, to reduce roll and keep a tighter check on body movements.
It’s effective, too. The VXR8 lopes along motorways, engine spinning at an unstressed 1800rpm or so at the legal limit and the hydraulically assisted power steering sitting comfortably drawn to straight ahead.
On twisty roads it feels like the 4971mm-long and 1899mm-wide car it is, but the VXR8 Tourer moves along okay. It’s not agile, but it’s pleasingly balanced. Trailing the brakes keeps the weighty nose tucked into corners and, if circumstances allow, from that point on it’ll happily have its tail kicked wide all day long.
Should I buy one?
Even if you don’t indulge, there is much to enjoy, such as the way the Vauxhall rocks gently at idle thanks to the V8’s lumpiness, or the general woofle and burble at low speed.
And, of course, that practicality and roominess. Remember, you’re not buying an irrational, 324g/km, £50,000 car whose sat-nav doesn’t work in this hemisphere. You just needed the biggest estate car you could get.