When the Vauxhall VXR8 defeated the Mercedes E63 AMG and BMW M5 in our recent road-test shootout - on sheer, simple delivery of performance - I was as astonished as anyone, despite the fact that I work in the same office as all the people involved. Truth be told, that VXR8 even shocked the blokes who delivered the verdict.
So when a big, orange VXR8 arrived this time last week to be my smoker over the Easter weekend, the prospect was enthralling, especially since this car is really a Holden, the GM-owned marque I proudly remember as “Australia’s Own” back in the day. Spent my earliest road-testing days in big-torque V8s like this, though I have to admit none of them had quite 577bhp to burn, or a fat supercharger. Then again, none of them weighed two tonnes.
The VXR8 brings together a Mexican-made engine and an Aussie body/suspension. It is badged Chevrolet, Vauxhall or Holden depending where you are in the world (in New York last week, I read a USA Today test of this car, which they called the Chevy SS). Every October the VXR (called the Holden HSV) spearheads GM’s assault on the Bathurst 1000, one of the world’s great races staged on the fearsome Mt Panorama circuit 100 miles west of Sydney. In a way few Holden execs ever anticipated, this is a true world car.