Vauxhall gave up on the VX220 in 2006, yet it was arguably one of the best cars to have the Griffin badge on the front in the past 30 years. That said, you can’t argue with lacklustre sales or buyers who gave that badge the bird.
Still, I say that it was the badge snobs’ loss because under the surface of a VX220 there lies a Lotus Elise underneath. Significantly, though, it was always cheaper, new or used, than the Elise.
The VX220 has a strong 2.0 litre engine and when it was attached to a turbocharger it pushed the lightweight body along to 60mph in less than 5 seconds. The gearbox is well matched too, being usefully slick and helping to power along the car whether it is tackling twisty country lanes or even cruising on the motorway. Even so, you will still get around 30mpg overall, which is pretty good for a vehicle that delivers almost supercar levels of handling and performance.
For track day fans the VX220 is the sort of car that will take you reasonably comfortably to the track, where you can drive on the limit and then drive safely home again. Brilliant.
Even the refinement levels are pretty good for what is a no-nonsense sports car. The wind noise is kept to a minimum with the hood in place and the engine is quite muted too. In the cabin everything falls conveniently to hand and the seats are reasonably supportive; you feel very snug and safe. Surprisingly, the VX220 is quite practical too, as the boot (which is tucked behind the engine) can take a reasonable amount of soft luggage. Idiots might complain that air-con and electric windows are not standard, but they would only add weight and make the VX220 into an ordinary poser’s convertible.
I say wear the Griffin with pride, because this is the best value British sportscar of the last decade, or indeed any ten-year period you care to mention. Period.