Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Friday 31st August 2012

PH Buying Guide: Vauxhall VX220

'Vauxhall's Elise' is a great car in its own right. Here's all you need to know



Necessity was to prove the mother of invention for the Vauxhall VX220. Vauxhall fancied a sports car to glitz up its range and Lotus desperately needed funds to replace its Elise Series 1 that could no longer meet impending crash protection regulations as the new millennium approached. A deal was struck and in 2000 the VX220 arrived on the market costing £22,809.

VX220 started out with a N-A 2.2-litre engine
VX220 started out with a N-A 2.2-litre engine
For the money, many thought they were simply being offered an Elise with Vauxhall badges (or Opel badges for the same car sold as the Speedster in Europe with left-hand drive). This could not have been further from the case as the VX shared only 10% of its components with the Elise, most notably the extruded aluminium chassis tub, bonded together to create a very torsionally stiff base. Even then, the VX differed from the Elise with a wheelbase that's 30mm longer and rear track 20mm wider than the Lotus.

Vauxhall also opted for 17-inch alloy wheels all round to give the VX a bit more presence, while Lotus stuck with 16-inch front wheels as it reckoned they improved handling balance. Either way, the VX impressed with its dynamic ability, helped by purpose-designed Bridgestone tyres. Other key changes were the Vauxhall's anti-lock brakes as standard and a driver's airbag, which the Elise did without.

VXR220 was an impressive last hurrah
VXR220 was an impressive last hurrah
The VX also distanced itself from the Elise with its engines. There was no way Vauxhall would condone a car in its line-up with a Rover K-Series engine, so the 147hp 2.2-litre aluminium motor from the Astra SRi was drafted in, helping the 870kg VX from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds and on to 135mph.

Vauxhall then added the VX220 Turbo in 2003 with another engine from the Astra range. This iron-blocked motor gave 200hp but upped the overall weight of the car to 930kg. Still, the VX Turbo fires off 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and hits 151mph, which earned it a supercar-humbling reputation.

Lotus turned out a total of 5,267 VX220s and 1,940 Turbos by the time production ended in 2005, but that didn't stop Vauxhall adding one last VX hurrah in 2004 with the VXR220. This lightened, more powerful model used the Turbo as a base but with a modified ECU to increase power to 220hp. Along with optional Ohlins suspension and Lotus-aping 16-inch front wheels plus Yokohama tyres, it was the ultimate VX220 and could cover 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds. Only 65 VXR220s were made, so it's a rarity today and you'll likely pay around £20,000 for a well cared for example. Much more affordable is the original normally aspirated VX that starts from around £6,000, while a Turbo will cost from the £9,000 mark.


Owner's view:
"If you can live with the downsides then you're guaranteed miles of smiles and lots of admiring looks."
Nige Franklin


Buying guide contents:
Introduction
Powertrain
Rolling chassis
Body
Interior
Search Vauxhall VX220s in the classifieds now

alisdairsuttie
2 3 4
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

wooooody

Original Poster:

901 posts

121 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
What crash regulations? As far as I am aware there is no difference in crash worthiness at all between an S1 and K series S2. Neither has airbags, neither has ABS, the crash structures are only very slightly different and if anything the S2 tub is worse as it has the lower sills.

Second time I've seen this on a PH VX220 article, care to point to a source?

The article said said:
The 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres Vauxhall used on the VX are fine at the back, but the 175/55 R17 fronts are an unusual size and hard to come by. At the outset, Bridgestone tyres were the only option as these were designed specifically for the VX220. There are some other tyre options out there now, but a simpler solution is to fit the 16-inch front alloy wheels from a Lotus Elise S2 which opens up a much broader selection of tyres.
Except that neither S2 nor S1 wheels will fit a VX 220; the Lotus is 4 stud, the VX 5. You can if you change the hubs but that's hardly 'simpler'. Tyres are the single biggest reason now not to bother with a VX, my VX owning friends tell me it's still only bridestone that do tyres in completely the correct size, everything else is a compromise.



Edited by wooooody on Friday 31st August 11:37

kambites

39,676 posts

105 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
I've never heard that before, but maybe pedestrian impact regs? Is there less clearance between the front clam and the radiator on the S1/VX220 than the S2?

wooooody

Original Poster:

901 posts

121 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
Actually who writes this stuff? Only glanced over it but it's reccomending new hub to ball joint plinths in 10.9 grade? So they go bang all of a sudden instead of slowly weakening & giving a warning? Better to replace with new 8.8 bolts yearly if tracing.

And no mention of toe links that I can see? Make sure they're the latest service bulletin fine thread items at least for road tyred cars.

NigelCayless

33 posts

39 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
I had one of these for 6 months. Although it was fun to drive it was an absolute money pit - you wouldn't think so much could go wrong on such a simple car. Traded it in for a 370z which was a vast improvement.

cliffie

170 posts

102 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
Hi wooooody,

Most VX220 owners go for a 16/17 inch wheel combination then run the 195/45-17 fronts, there are a few die hard fans of originality that stick to the Bridgestones.

As for the hub bolts snapping. Not unique to the VX220 and the 8.8 can snap especially on a track day car with sticky tyres such as the Yokohama or Toyo. The change from the 8.8 to the 10.9 was in fact a Lotus originated fix and advised for all Elise/Exige at Lotus servicing and the bolt kit became a Lotus supplied part. I doubt you would notice that bolt slowly weakening over time and no warning is given whatever grade you use.

The VX220 has wider sills hence better side impact protection.

You could always go to www.vx220.org.uk if you want to learn facts about the VX220 rather than post incorrect information.
Advertisement

_Batty_

12,179 posts

134 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
How odd.
I'm picking mine up tomorrow hehe

gofasterrosssco

623 posts

120 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
Actually quite a good buyers guide that...

cliffie

170 posts

102 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
gofasterrosssco said:
Actually quite a good buyers guide that...
Having owned one for four years, looked at plenty, worked on many and rebuilt one completely, I have to agree.

sykes

15 posts

58 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
No mention of the Lightning Yellow limited edition models. These were a run of 100 2.2 NAs produced in 2002, identified by 'Brilliant Yellow' paint, black windscreen surround and anthracite wheels (shown on the 'Body' section of this guide).

They're mechanically identical to the standard NA but were supplied with a body-coloured hard-top, leather seats and an individually numbered dashboard plaque - natch. While hard-tops are available for all VX's, these typically fetch around £600, so a Lightning Yellow edition saves this extra cash.

Generally a good buyers' guide, but as Cliffie says; the vx220.org.uk guide is more accurate.

FlashBastd

255 posts

74 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
Nice guide, but the Turbo's had neither leather nor central locking as standard.

hughcam

159 posts

49 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
EXPAT 500 said:
Elise is ten times better....and it has a decent badge! laugh
Are you a troll or just joking? It unbelieable how elise owners get so defensive about their cars. Just except that the VX year for year is better wink

andy_s

9,780 posts

143 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
I've an Elise but to underestimate the VX would be a mistake. A very good car indeed.

Rawwr

14,291 posts

118 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
The NA was brilliant. The turbo always seemed to feel a little woolly.

RosCabezas

117 posts

137 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
EXPAT 500 said:
The Lotus is without doubt a beautiful car, whereas the Vauxhall is just plain ugly (from all angles)
I have owned 2 Elises in the past and also driven a few VX220s, so I speak from experience.
I realize that you can judge the way they drive or the quality of materials, after having driven/owned both... but aesthetics?? How's your appreciation of ugliness related to owner experience??

kambites

39,676 posts

105 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
hughcam said:
EXPAT 500 said:
Elise is ten times better....and it has a decent badge! laugh
Are you a troll or just joking? It unbelieable how elise owners get so defensive about their cars. Just except that the VX year for year is better wink
Personally, I don't see what's wrong with just admitting that they're the same car, pretty much.

The biggest problem is that Vauxhall picked the wrong sized wheels - the 17s on the front are complete and utter rubbish and completely ruin the handling. I have no actual idea why, they just seem to. They also chose to fit ABS and the system used is terrible. Sort out those two (very minor) issues, and there is really nothing to choose between the cars except the engines. There are even VX220s running around with Elise clam-shells on.

I love the VX220 and would probably have bought one (with suitable modifications to get the handling and braking system up to scratch) if there was one available with an engine I liked.

Edited by kambites on Friday 31st August 14:07

cliffie

170 posts

102 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
EXPAT 500 said:
Elise is ten times better....and it has a decent badge! laugh
Shame only one has been passed me on a track day.

magician

11 posts

24 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
kambites said:
The biggest problem is that Vauxhall picked the wrong sized wheels - the 17s on the front are complete and utter rubbish and completely ruin the handling.
Makes you wonder how many other cars' handling has been spoiled by the fitting of needlessly big wheels. And performance and m.p.g. too as they weigh more.

gofasterrosssco

623 posts

120 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
EXPAT 500 said:
The Lotus is without doubt a beautiful car, whereas the Vauxhall is just plain ugly (from all angles)
I have owned 2 Elises in the past and also driven a few VX220s, so I speak from my arse.
EFA wink

GraemeLambert

510 posts

98 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
cliffie said:
Shame only one has been passed me on a track day.
That may have more to do with the driver(s) though Mike...

G

cliffie

170 posts

102 months

[news] 
Friday 31st August 2012 quote quote all
kambites said:
Personally, I don't see what's wrong with just admitting that they're the same car, pretty much.

The biggest problem is that Vauxhall picked the wrong sized wheels - the 17s on the front are complete and utter rubbish and completely ruin the handling. I have no actual idea why, they just seem to. They also chose to fit ABS and the system used is terrible. Sort out those two (very minor) issues, and there is really nothing to choose between the cars except the engines. There are even VX220s running around with Elise clam-shells on.

I love the VX220 and would probably have bought one (with suitable modifications to get the handling and braking system up to scratch) if there was one available with an engine I liked.

Edited by kambites on Friday 31st August 14:07
Vauxhall specc'd the 17" fronts for aesthetics we are told but the truth is more that they wanted the car to appeal to a wider range of potential customers than the Elise and in fitting the ABS and the 17" front wheel it was far less likely that a "normal" road user would stick it in the nearest ditch or hedge. This is why the VX in standard trim will lean towards understeer rather than the Elise's tendency to oversteer.

There is another school of thought that the Lotus test drivers drove the original VX220 2.2 NA (145BHP) round Hethel and came back saying that the VX was good, so good that it was better than the Elise (which was still a 1.8 K Series at the time) and the instructions came back that the VX must be pegged back as there was no way it could go up against the Elise in all the back to back magazine road tests that were going to happen. Thus the VX got softened and the Elise beat it in every comparison test (not by much I hasten to add).

What is fact is that the original VX came out of the factory with a softer geo, less focussed dampers/springs, higher ride height, 17" front wheels, naff ABS system and more weight.


Edited by cliffie on Friday 31st August 14:43

2 3 4
Reply to Topic