back to article Vauxhall VXR8: You know when you've been tangoed

I wanted to like the Vauxhall VXR8, but I didn’t and I’m still not entirely sure why not. It’s very fast and has the magic ingredient I look for in a car: exclusivity. Not the you-can’t-afford-it kind of exclusivity, but a special kind of petrol-head, what’s-one-of-those? exclusivity. I used to own a VX220, which was a …

  1. Jim 59

    Cheaper than a Nissan GTR (78k).

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      The GT-R's had a bit more thought than "let's throw a supercharger at a taxi" put into it.

      But I can't imagine many people are cross shopping the two...

      1. Jim 59


        Still supposedly the fastest car in the world point to point, if Top Gear magazine is to be believed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: GTR

          What is point to point?

          0 - 100 - 0 and back again, your right a GTR is the one you want, but not the one you are thinking of:

          But you may want the new improved model:

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: GTR

            GTR is 4 wheel drive too. I had a drive in one when the wife got me one of those track day things. They are utter monsters and just keep revving.

            1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

              Re: GTR

              The GT-R's power:weight is only 2.5% higher than that of the glorified Commodore, but they're not even close when it comes to capabilities and performance.

              Sadly the price difference is even larger here, because Australia Tax.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    But you DID get a speeding ticket :)

    Something you did not quite manage with the Jag and the Tesla.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought Holden Motors was closing down in 2017 ?

    1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      It is.

      But why's that relevant to a review of something they're badging this year?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        because you won't see any more of the Australian built muscle cars that's why.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge


        Because as a result of this some of the better "power" cars which they have done in the last 10 years have negative depreciation. In fact they appreciate, not depreciate (supply/demand or to be more exact an expectation of).

        1. mathew42

          Appreciation in value

          Do you have any examples of models that are likely to appreciate?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Mondo the Magnificent

    Aussie cars FTW!

    I have to admire the Aussies, they do make some fantastic muscle cars

    The Vauxhall (Holden) V8s are such well designed beasts and they sound fanbloodytastic, a pleasure to drive and hear, if one can afford to own and run such a car. I recall reading how the GM in America took a page from Holden in Oz by using the Aussie suspension design in their U.S. market cars, opposed to the old "live axle" design that the Yanks seem to slap under any car with a V8. The Camaro was one such recipient of this suspension and was praised by motoring journalists due to the fact it could hold its own in corners.

    When we lived in South Africa, my dad bought a Ford Sierra XR8, it too was an Aussie design and not just a "normal" Sierra with an oversized lump shoehorned into the front either

    It had bigger, wider wheels, uprated diff, gearbox, suspension, brakes and if course that lovely V8 with a big Holley carb and Edelbrock headers.

    It's good to see that V8 muscle cars are still available and when they are designed from the wheels up as a right hand drive car, it makes them even more appealing to those of us who drive on the left.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Aussie cars FTW!

      Are you sure the Sierra XR8 was an Australian design? Sierras were never sold here. The 2L turbo ones that were built here for racing were the best in the world, but very different to dropping some asthmatic American V8 into one.

      We do have a Falcon XR8.

    2. Medixstiff

      Re: Aussie cars FTW!

      Yep I love my FG G6E Turbo, even from factory they are just so much fun, of course if you think they will beat an Evo or WRX around corners, you are going to have a bad time, these things like the XR6 Turbo are straight line weapons but are so cheap to pull power out of and just all around fun.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Aussie cars FTW!

      Definately, big V8 in a European style chassis.

      If the second hand ones were cheaper I would have bought one.

      Stick LPG on it for running costs and all is fine!

      Only interesting GM cars over here since the demise of the big RWD Opels (which Holdens are derived from)

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Aussie cars FTW!

        Only interesting GM cars over here since the demise of the big RWD Opels (which Holdens are derived from)

        The Opel link ended when the VE was launched in 2006 on a brand new platform.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Aussie cars FTW!

          Still a sad day though, the death of European GM cars worth buying

    4. druck Silver badge

      Re: Aussie cars FTW!

      Are the dealers willing to remove every trace of Vauxhall badges from it though?

      If it was branded a Holden, they'd have a sale from me.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Are the dealers willing to remove every trace of Vauxhall badges from it though?

        Typically no, but us owners tend to pluck them off as soon as we get the car :D

      2. B4PJS

        Re: Aussie cars FTW!

        Yes they are. They will badge it up with the original HSV badges if you speak to the right dealership. They apply the badges when it gets into the country anyway, so it is not hard for them to apply the HSV ones.

  5. frank ly

    We want information.

    "You can watch all this going on with suspension, slip and steering information in the on-dash display."

    Especially when you're poking it around a variable radius bend on the way to a motorway filter lane in rush hour traffic.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: We want information.

      My commute is a choice between county lanes or a twisty A road

  6. David Robinson 1

    There are control flaps for both air intake and exhaust. These allow you to choose between "wake the neighbours" and "wake the whole street".

    So you're saying it's subtle ;)

  7. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    What's the point? Congestion and obsession with speed cameras makes...

    ... driving a chore not a pleasure. I overtook a Lamborghini Aventador on my bicycle recently.

    1. Kris Akabusi

      Re: What's the point? Congestion and obsession with speed cameras makes...

      Depends where you live, not much fun driving round cities but up in the lakes I can imagine its amazing. In fact one of these is on the short list for the next 'family car'

      1. x 7

        Re: What's the point? Congestion and obsession with speed cameras makes...

        "in the lakes I can imagine its amazing"

        no chance

        1) too many pot holes

        2) most of the roads are too narrow for "fun" driving to be safe

        3) too many tourists clagging the roads

        4) too many caravans

        to give an example - yesterday I got stuck in a series of traffic jams while driving over Corney Fell. Too many thick townies who don't understand that there is a natural working limit to the maximum size of queue at passing spaces on single-track roads......

        I'd be first at the passing place, wait for oncoming traffic - all eight or nine cars - only for them to be blocked by the queue which built up behind as I waited. stopping me from exiting the passing place..

        Only resolved by a lot of rude language telling oncoming vehicles to get out of the effing way.- none of them wanted to give up the crown of the road, not even the FLFs in their 4x4s

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's the point? Congestion and obsession with speed cameras makes...

          I'd be first at the passing place, wait for oncoming traffic

          In cities they rush to get into the closest small space to the choke point then everyone behind piles into the same non space.

          Mainly down to the fact you don't need pass UK road awareness anymore within a year from passing the "slip the examiner 10 rupees" test

  8. Jimbo in Thailand

    James Bond would be proud... trade in his beloved Aston Martin for this particular bright orange VXR8 with its huge built in launchable missile sticking up out of the bonnet. On second thought, I bet driving around with that massive mechanical erection up front is going to cause some serious handling problems though... understeer, I mean. And forward visibility is bound to be shite.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: James Bond would be proud...

      Apparently the gps is programmed to avoid escape routes with low bridges.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: James Bond would be proud...

      There is plenty of things you could hold up about the commodore as reasons for preferring something else. Understeer isn't one of them.

      1. Jimbo in Thailand

        Re: James Bond would be proud...

        LOL, Adam 1 what are you bitchin' about? There are 2 things to keep in mind here:

        1. My post was meant to be a joke.

        2. If the VXR8, or any other car, had such a massive mass installed, especially one located so far forward on the chassis (monstrous missile systems included) it ain't gonna wanna turn. Trying to force it into a highspeed turn would cause all kinds of hate and discontent, including causing the front end to 'push', i.e., resist changing direction... aka understeer. That's why all the cool kids drive mid-engined speedsters - without huge missile systems - unless dictated by double-0-prefix job requirements approved by MI6. Hmmm.... is Q out of the picture these days?

        Cheers buddy!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: James Bond would be proud...

        There is plenty of things you could hold up about the commodore as reasons for preferring something else.

        Yep, like it being a gas guzzling bogan heap of shit.

  9. fishman

    Chevy SS

    This sounds like the Chevy SS - a Holden Commodore with a Corvette V8. It isn't supercharged, so it only has 415 HP.

    1. Breen Whitman

      Re: Chevy SS

      This has a blower.

      Non blown LS engines have intake come to the engine in the dead center. The blown ones the air intake is on the side. The blower is driven from the rear.

      In Oz these variants are the HSV.

    2. Sporkinum

      Re: Chevy SS

      One of the doctors at work just got one. Looks pretty much like a normal Impala from the outside. He seems to like it so far. He has a couple of old Mopar GTOs that he drives to work some times, but this is way faster, better mileage, and a cop won't give it a second look.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Chevy SS

        Looks pretty much like a normal Impala from the outside.

        Can't say I see the resemblance. Also they're completely different vehicles on completely different platforms.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Chevy SS

      This sounds like the Chevy SS - a Holden Commodore with a Corvette V8. It isn't supercharged, so it only has 415 HP.

      You obviously don't have a clue what you're on about.

      These have supercharged LSA 6.2L motors chucking out around 576bhp.

      The original E1 VXR8 came with a LS2 6.0L motor that produced around 415bhp.

      The later E1 VXR8 and E3 VXR8 GTS both came with LS3 6.2L motors producing 431bhp.

      Later E1 models also came in supercharged Bathurst and Bathurst S specification, both styles converted from N/A to blown by Walkinshaw Performance at the behest of Vauxhall. The difference between the two is size of the charger.

  10. x 7

    it may be pretty to look at, and full of high-tech, but in reality gas guzzling muscle cars like this are as out of date as that Bloodhound missile launcher you parked it next to in the photo

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Out of dat, maybe. Effective, though.

      in reality gas guzzling muscle cars like this are as out of date as that Bloodhound missile launcher

      Yet both are astonishingly effective at what they're made for, respectively going stupidly fast or destroying stuff. If you've ever driven a car with a decent amount of power and you can afford it, I really can't see anyone switch back to an anaemic pretend-eco* car.

      * Yes, pretend - if you really want to talk about eco-friendly saving emission a Prius is *not* your friend. Unless you think you can survive in traffic on the half an hour 0..60 acceleration that you cannot exceed if you want to keep the thing in the green. You're better off with a small modern diesel with particle filter, it's also cheaper.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Out of dat, maybe. Effective, though.

        Well said. You'll have to pry my VXR8 keys from my cold dead hand. There's no way in hell I'd go back to pathetically - dangerously - underpowered "eco" cars of any kind. If you want to be eco, don't have a car. Anyone who claims to be eco-friendly yet drives a car of any sort is a hypocrite, in my personal and humble opinion.

        YMMV. Especially in a 6.2L V8 :D

  11. werdsmith Silver badge

    like the VX220 it isn’t made by Vauxhall

    What cars are made by Vauxhall then? A few Astras at Ellesmere Port, which is an assembly plant for the Opel Astra. Vauxhalls are either Opels, GM Korea or Holden. Otherwise it's just a UK branding for GM Europe (Opel).

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Viva GT

    My old man had a Viva GT Mk1 he paid about £2K for in the late '60s, I'm willing to bet it was at least as much fun to drive as this beast is.

    The old GT came with a tad over 100BHP standard but my dad had Bill Blydenstein do some work on it and we were getting 128BHP on the dyno, it was good for 135MPH on the Hog's Back on a Sunday and could see off an XJ6 without any trouble, I am fairly certain the acceleration wasn't much slower than this VXR8, I think it was low 5s but not sure, off the line at Brands Hatch on a club day was always respectable and the handling for what was basically a tarted up family car was not too shabby unfortunately a brake disc quit on the Embankment and the Old Man buried the car under a truckload of spuds, the car was a write off.

    Of all the cars my Dad had over the years the Viva GT was the most fun,possibly because it was a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    1. x 7

      Re: Viva GT

      "Viva GT Mk1"

      A Mk1? Really? Thats the original three-box HA body. I didn't think the GT came along until the HB Mk2 "cokebottle" body. Pls correct me if I'm wrong.

      Of course the "fun" Viva was the HC Mk3 which grew into the Magnum/Firenza/Sportshatch with a 2,3 engine,,,,,one of those "Blydensteined" was a pocket rocket. You could even get a plastic bodyshell for the Magnum/Firenza

      Never drove an HA, not even the long-production van version, but my memories of the HB and HC are of remarkably stable suspension and easy handling, even the big-engined versions. Both were a lot better than the contemporary offerings from Ford and Leyland/BMC. Mind you I liked the handling of the Hunter/Avenger ranges.....I guess I'm funny like that

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Viva GT

        The Viva GT was an HB which as a GT came as a Mk1 and oddly later a MkII . The Vivas as you so rightly point out did not come as Mks but as HA, HB and HC, The HB performed best out of the the three, the inclined 2 litre engine was IIRC developed by Cosworth at the design stage although they didn't have anything to do with the Viva itself and it didn't have as much power as Cosworth could have put into it. The Firenza didn't handle that well although it was quite rapid. The HAs were very basic and I think never better than 56BHP, not a startling performer but very reliable and cheap to run , I had two of them as business vehicles, good full up ( and probably overloaded) for nearly a ton up a motorway.

        I drove astage three Blydenstein Magnum belonging to a mate, it was bloody fast but much harder work getting it round a corner compared to the Viva. I think the last incarnation of the go faster HC was a Brabham which had a disappointing 1600cc 4 pot in it.

        The Avenger Tiger was a fun car although ugly as sin but it was another one that didn't like corners, well, not with me driving it anyway.

        The unfortunate thing with the old Rootes cars was the body work that would rot while you watched it, a shame because they made some nice cars! Come to think of it Vauxhalls at that time were not much better.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Viva GT - Chris G

          Rootes cars

          Design work was usually very good, excellent engines, but rust, a welder is your friend.

          Never had handling issues with the Avenger range, I used to own the hatch derivative and the handling of that was superb.

          And I did a very nice wheel arch repair with seam welding

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Viva GT - x 7

        I also liked the Avenger, good handling and pretty comfortable.

  13. x 7

    just remembered where that orange colour was last used on a production car: The Bond Bug

    About as useful on a day to day basis as well. Both designed to be purchased by prats

    1. Oldfogey

      Hurrah the Bond Bug

      The Bug was very much the wolf in sheeps clothing. With the hot engine (as used in Formula 600 single seaters) it was capable of about 115 (factory kept this quite), and when I was taken on the track by their test driver he showed that it could do a 3-wheel drift under precise control, because of the extraordinarily low COG.

      1. paulc
        Thumb Up

        Re: Hurrah the Bond Bug

        Bond Bug could get exciting... I had a bored out 850 engine in mine... was always able to out-drag anyone at the lights... roundabouts and left hand bends could get hairy though unless you had a passenger or sack of potatoes in the passenger seat to keep the left rear wheel down on the entry and exit...

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Funny both are interesting cars

      The Reliants were not slow. My mum had a Reliant before she passed her car test and she did beat an XR3 at traffic lights.

  14. Snar

    I would rather have a cervical smear rather than buy another VXR "performance car". Load of wank. OK, this is made by Holden, but the Baboons who work in the dealerships will fcuk it up for you if the car itself doesn't go titsup and charge a fortune in spare parts and labour. Avoid.

    1. Kris Akabusi

      what issues have you had? My VXR has been faultless, not like the Golf it replaced.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Was it a VXR8 or one of the boring cars?

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      First rule of owning a VXR8...

      ...never let it near a Vauxhall dealership.

      There are specialists who know these cars backwards and inside out, and will treat them with the respect they deserve. Most of the staff own these or similarly powered cars themselves, and have no need to be a twat in them, unlike your local grease monkey who's never so much as seen a V8 motor let alone worked on one.

      Find a specialist that knows the engine, you'll have a much better experience.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: First rule of owning a VXR8...

        >>>>>...never let it near a Vauxhall dealership.

        That won't happen, I went there about 18 months ago to see if any decent used cars on Notwork Q, basically anything with diff at the back. Either Austrailian or Russelheim.

        They tried the hard sell with finance and the lot for some shitty piece of plastic crap, I sat in this car, plastic everywhere, too many pedals, they could tell I did not like it but kept on. Some sort of small people carrier, no idea what it was.

        Carried on searching, Tried all the local dealers, crap cars everywhere, disinterested salesmen everywhere, ended up buying a Land Rover because it was the only car I could afford I found interesting.

        I hate buying cars.

  15. R Callan

    Transmission GRRRRRRRRRR

    The transmission of a car is the what is often called the drivetrain, everything from the flywheel to the drive wheels. It is what transmits the power of the engine to the road where it is of most use. The gear box is not the transission!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Transmission GRRRRRRRRRR

      By that logic the chassis is equally part of the transmission since without it the drive train would simply wind itself up and self destruct. By itself it is quite incapable of putting the power to the road.

    2. Louis Schreurs BEng

      Re: Transmission GRRRRRRRRRR

      Gearbox is situated AFTER flywheel and even if it dont it is part of the trannie

      1. x 7

        Re: Transmission GRRRRRRRRRR

        so trannies have a wheel on their trouser flys rather than a zip? How does that work?

  16. Christian Legg

    This is why the Aussie motor industry is shutting down

    V8 fuel guzzlers that cost an arm and a leg to buy and then take your kidneys for ongoing petrol costs.

    Any wonder people aren't buying them anymore?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love my Aussie muscle car

    You can keep your Euro-wank and Japanese rice-grinders.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I love my Aussie muscle car

      I'd still rather have the Merc than this Westie-wagon given the choice.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: I love my Aussie muscle car


        But I am too young for a Merc, I am only in my 50s

      2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: I'd still rather have the Merc than this Westie-wagon given the choice

        I'd rather have the VXR8 and still have enough change left over to buy, oh I dunno, another car with...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'd still rather have the Merc than this Westie-wagon given the choice

          If you can afford a Merc you don't generally think "oh, but I could buy two Holdens instead".

  18. clocKwize

    No picture from the outside?

    Odd to review a car without posting a photo of it..

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: No picture from the outside?

      I expect that photo of an Orange car with a Bloodhound SAM missile coming out of the bonnet does qualify as a picture from the outside.

  19. TeeCee Gold badge


    I was standing next to that the other day when some chap came up to me and said it was the loudest thing he'd ever heard.

    He was on base for a test, back in the day. He said at "go" time, the thing just vanished to all intents and purposes. By the time his eyes found it again, it was several miles away and at about that moment the godawful noise of it departing on rockets hit. Having just got used to that, the fact that it had fired its ramjets and gone supersonic as it cleared the airfield perimeter fence made itself felt and heard.

    Acceleration figures of 0-->holyshitthat'squick in nothing flat. I take it that the car comes second best as it is incapable of achieving supersonic speeds in a standing quarter mile drag?

    1. x 7

      Re: Bloodhound.

      Apparently 0 > Mach 2.5 in 3 seconds

  20. squigbobble

    mgp vs gph

    My parents last 2 Fords (Focus & B-Max) all switched to gph on the instantaneous fuel consumption display when the car was stationary. From this I learned that Ford auto boxes waste 2x as much fuel when you're stationary and idling in D as they do in N.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: mgp vs gph

      That's because the autobox is stirring the slush in D, but not in N - pretty much all autos do this.

  21. Yugguy

    If I had the cash

    If I had the cash I'd buy one of these like a shot.

    Then I'd go around pissing off Audi 2.0T drivers, who all THINK they have 600bhp and are faster than ANYTHING else on the road.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: If I had the cash

      So get a 2009 model. They're around the £15k mark at the moment. Or the rarer 2012 and later E3 models which run at around £30k and are slightly better equipped. Nearly as much fun for a lot less outlay.

      0-60 in 4.9 instead of 4.2, but realistically you're never going to be able to put the power down without spinning the wheels to see 4.2...

      With the change send it to Walkinshaw or Monkfish and ask them for cams/headers/OTRCAI and a remap, or a charger in whatever size takes your fancy.

    2. B4PJS

      Re: If I had the cash

      I do this all the time in mine :) They sit on your exhaust in traffic when there is no bloody room to get out of their way, but then when the road in front of me opens up they are nowhere to be seen surprisingly. Only thing that has been a match so far is a C63 AMG

  22. B4PJS

    A few comments from an owner :)

    Fairly decent article though I do have a few comments.

    1. Yes the HUD binnacle does reflect, though you cannot see it when wearing decent sunglasses.

    2. From the Maserati review: £63,750 basic, £80,852 as tested RRP. Comparing the price of the VXR8 GTS against the Maserati is a bit disingenuous when the max I could add to the base spec of the GTS on ordering it was £3k. £1.5k for the auto, and £1.5k for the sunroof. Neither of which I went for.

    3. Noise. Yes it is quiet when the Bimodal exhaust is closed, but it is a two minute job to keep it fully open. Just reverse the non-return vacuum valve under the engine cover and it really does improve the noise throughout the range, rather than only when the electronics tell the system to open :)

    4. Road noise. Guessing you were on the south side of the M25. If you turn it to race mode to firm up the suspension it does alleviate most of the noise, but yes, it is slightly annoying.

    I love owning this car, it has so far been a really fun experience, long may it continue.

  23. John 62

    fuel consumption by the hour

    I drove a wee Fiesta* across northern Germany recently and thought that litres per hour for autobahn driving might be a useful fuel consumption guide as I was sort of estimating in my head how long the tank would last, not so much how far.

    * Fiesta did well: nice to drive, hit 95 mph on the Autobahn and cruised nicely at 80+

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