The VXR8’s latest VE series sports several improvements: from better weight distribution at 51 per cent to the front and 49 per cent to the rear, quicker steering, a five-link rear suspension, and a more durable bodyshell. In spite of its many changes, the latest generation still retains some elements from its former life—elements that could have been the focus of its improvements.
The Vauxhall VXR8 doesn’t give a false promise with its nickname, “The Thunder from Down Under.” The 6.2-litre V8 engine packs in 425bhp as well as 405 lb ft torque, thus reaching 60mph in just 4.9 seconds. Just a second more if you do so with the auto gearbox. Beyond raw power, it also has adjustable dampers that allow for an agile ride. Meant to be driven at aggressive speeds, the VXR8’s brakes are fitted in case of a sudden stop. The transition is almost seamless once you stop and get back to speed after.
There’s more than enough cabin space thanks to the VXR8’s 4.9 length and 10cm difference from the Mercedes E-class or BMW 5-series. The rear has enough space for three individuals and cushions enough support for all their weight. The driver enjoys an excellent position thanks to half leather seats that can be adjusted in eight directions. Families also won’t have a problem fitting all their luggage in the 496-litre boot. There’s also an endless array of default equipment: from a CD changer, automatic wipers, parking sensors, and a dual-zone climate control.
The same mechanical box from the previous model still does the job, but is a bit of a struggle to move with the shoulders instead of just the wrist. Nonetheless the ride is smoother than its previous life and the clutch much lighter. There’s also more power delivery and its ability to progress stably without any sudden surprises.
Unfortunately poor visibility impedes deducts the large points accumulated by the interior’s deatures. The A-pillars’ thick size makes it difficult to see at junctions. The rear view is also obstructed; there’s also a huge blind spot on the tiny side mirrors.
The VXR8 isn’t too refined, with the V8 engine growling too loudly once you push that pedal.
In terms of exterior design, we don’t recommend the GTS as its bumper treatment and different approach on the grille isn’t too easy on the eyes. The entry-level Clubsport has a subtler look thanks to the vents on the deep front spoiler. But the rear spoiler gets in the way of proper visibility. The LED rear lights also aren’t too smooth in finish.
The VXR8’s LS3 still prefers capacity over revving; the 6600rpm redline although not restraining, demands too much from its actual capability. Instead it’s smarter to run from 2000 to 4600 rpm.
The latest VXR8’s chassis has more focus and controls the car aptly, but the dampers don’t dial out body movement completely. There are two control settings to choose from: track or performance, but even with these choices, there’s less roll and pitch compared to the old model.
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