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Organic Products at Your Vauxhall Dealer

Jul 18, 2008
In this time of motoring crisis, where petrol is rocketing in price and environmentalists are screaming for us to drive about in what appear to be battery powered chest freezers, it's clear that car manufacturers need to take note.

All the big players are either producing hybrid vehicles or tiny hatchbacks with even smaller emissions. Vauxhall are one of the biggest players on the car scene and you'd expect them to be the market leader in eco-friendly terms. A trip to your Vauxhall dealer however, will show that someone at HQ didn't get the low emissions memo. Whether it's a Corsa, Vectra or even a Zafira, Vauxhall offer them all with a 'VXR' badge, which helps turn even the most mild-mannered hatchback/saloon/MPV into a raging beast that gorges on the tarmac it rides on top of. Vauxhall seem to have got the mix right too, with the Corsa still flying off the shelves in standard or VXR guise.

Despite this clever juggling of which versions will meet with public demand, Vauxhall dealers have a secret hidden away, probably chained up in the attic of their showrooms throughout the world. The secret isn't based on any other Vauxhall model, isn't available in different trims and in this current economic climate, really shouldn't be in production at all. The secret? The Vauxhall VXR8.

Perhaps better known as the successor to the Vauxhall Monaro, the VXR8 is Vauxhall's most raucous hotrod ever. Packing a 6.0 litre (yes really!) engine under the bonnet, you get the impression the word 'hybrid' would be met with a confused expression from the VXR8. The performance figures are astounding too, with rear wheel drive helping get 400bhp onto the road in a 0-60mph time of 4.9 seconds. Top speed hasn't been officially recorded, presumably because Vauxhall fired the designer that missed the memo. Nevertheless other reviewers have easily hit 170mph+ and I'm happy to agree. Oh, did I mention it's got four doors?

The VXR8 looks every inch the racing saloon, which when you consider its original form is as a Holden Commodore, mostly seen racing in Australia, this doesn't surprise. Everything is big, brash and organic - it really is man and machine, with no fancy computers or iPod docking to get in the way of driving. 19 inch alloy wheels adorn the four corners and a rear spoiler helps block out the majority of rear visibility. In fact the wheels and spoiler look almost too small with the flared wheel arches and aggressive front end making the car as big and butch as Bruce Willis.

Just like Bruce, the VXR8 has a presence whether the styling is to your taste or not. Inside, as you'd expect from a four door saloon, room is plentiful, so even a six-footer like me in the rear still has ample head and legroom. In the UK the car costs a mere 35,000 which for a genuine BMW M5 rival is pocket money. There are few clues as to where this money has been saved, although parts of the interior do give the game away a tad. Some of the plastics do feel like Vauxhall had just 100 left to finish the inside. However, it is put together well and ultimately its how it drives that's the big winner.

There's nothing subtle about how the VXR8 puts its power down and it sounds fantastic doing so. Gigantic brakes and suspension help keep you on the road and it really can handle a corner - as you'd expect from its racing heritage. The gearbox is slick and helps maintain the car's feel of being raw and being put on this planet for one reason - to go fast.

Yet despite all this tyre burning and pedal-to-the-metal mayhem, the VXR8 has a trump card. On the motorway, because the engine is just so powerful and crucially full of torque, the 6.0 litre unit barely ticks over, thus returning a heart warming and wallet smiling 27mpg. Yes, town driving sees the consumption rocket faster than a space shuttle launch, but taking the VXR8 into town is like shackling a bear in a cage - they'd both be far happier roaming free.

In summary Vauxhall's latest whiplash inducer sees the driver taken back to a time when driving was a steering wheel, four tyres and a seat. You feel every movement the car makes and it's a joy to behold in this age when computers seem to control every bit of driving in other sports saloons. Looks like Vauxhall HQ did get the environmental memo. They've gone organic and grown their own drivers' car.
About the Author
Tom London is currently working on behalf of Now Vauxhall a Vauxhall dealer based in London promoting the new Vauxhall VXR range. Tom very much enjoyed reviewing the VXR8 and can't wait to get his hands on the other cars in the range in particular the Vauxhall Corsa VXR.
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