Electric power, hybrid, green, carbon emissions and eco- friendly. All of these are phrases that I dislike hearing in discussions about cars. OK, so I realise that one day we may have to look after the planet a little better but as I see it, if everyone else does what the government tells them to do, then us PHers can go about our business as usual and all will be well. We can also buy all the large capacity petrol cars that nobody wants anymore. Personally, I can't wait.
In this age of reduced emissions isnít it nice to still be able to wander into a mainstream dealer and say loudly, do you have anything with a V8 young man? Oh and preferably something bigger than 6 litres please. As the other buyers look at you as if you had announced you are about to marry your pet cat, the sales guy smiles and says certainly sir, step this way. Thankfully that can happen in Vauxhall showrooms up and down the land as they can sell you the recently revised 6.2 litre VXR8.
The improvements are small, but welcome with the GM LS3 engine squeezed under the bonnet you now have an additional 0.2 of a litre and power is up from 411 to 425bhp. It can now be ordered in white too, and as you can see from the pictures it doesn't look half bad. At £35k it seems to offer ridiculous value for money and as well as being a great car to drive for drivings sake, you can also pile in the family and a boot full of luggage without any issues at all. The seats are comfortable, and the large fuel tank means a 350 mile range is within reach even at 20mpg, as I found out on a trip to visit my family on Christmas Day. What else offers you big car space, 155mph, 0-60 in under 5 seconds and a whopping great engine this side of an M5 or RS6?
Traction is an issue, but perhaps that should be a selling point in the sales brochures? It wasn't long before the pristine white paintwork behind the rear wheels turned a lighter shade of black as it collected burnt rubber thrown up from over indulgent cornering and traffic light starts. Addictive stuff indeed, and throw in the noise from the Walkinshaw performance exhaust and it's a hard habit to break.
The big Vauxhall attracted attention in my part of SW London, mainly because of the local Australians feeling all home sick as they watched the 'Holden' drive past. Aside from the home fans, many others seemed to enjoy seeing the '8 on the streets. I assume that's because you don't see many of these around, but maybe itís misunderstood as most of the looks were from those who 'know' as they passed in other PH- worthy cars. Its popularity was soon to be tested under the harshest of conditions though as I was taking it to not one, but two car meets over the Christmas period.
Boxing Day morning, and Iím happily driving to meet up with the London Tunnelers in Central London. It's only a short drive from home and as I burble along I'm looking forward to making a noise at this most noisy of events. I park up next to a few early arrivals and they comment on the nice noise I made when I arrived. So far so good then and they appear to like the way the car looks, especially in white. Fast forward 20 minutes or so and Iím now surrounded by the loudest cars in London- from Mk1 Cortinas to supercharged Ford GTs.
My once nice sounding car is now about as loud as the aforementioned eco- friendly cars as my ears are treated to the best V8, V10 and V12 noises to be heard outside of Santa Pod. To be heard amongst this crowd I needed to remove all of the silencing from the VXR. Those that saw the car seemed to like it, and when you are in the company of some very expensive and rare machinery that can only be a good thing. As I made my way home the car became noisy once again and pedestrians looked around to see what was coming along the road. Despite being drowned out at the meet earlier, you have to admit that this is a great sounding car.
The next day and it's off to the last PH meet of the year, a brave move indeed when you realise that the pub we were heading to was within a stones throw of Bluewater shopping centre and the sales were starting that day. I met up with a number of London PHers early enough to avoid the traffic and we headed off in convoy. Now while I cannot expect the 6.2 four seater Vauxhall to be able to keep pace with some of Italyís finest, I can say that it kept up remarkably well on the occasions we were able to flex the right foot a little. I'm not too sure about the on the limit handling though and it was with some trepidation that I took some tight, fast bends. While this is a car I would love to live with as a daily drive, Iím not sure how it would fare on a track day.
My limited time with the car tells me that I would like to have some chassis tweaks made to tighten things up a little and eliminate some of the body roll, without these adjustments it lacks a little for me. What does impress is how easy it is to drive. The gearbox is precise and the steering has great feel. The seats are very comfortable, and as you would expect visibility is excellent too. Add in the huge boot, decent cruising range and it's alter- ego football hooligan, loud and brash side and I had to award it my recently created 'Car that would be great to take to Le Mans' award.
Giving the car back to Vauxhall was a sad day indeed. As I made the most of living with a V8 soundtrack on the way back to Luton I honestly believed that this is one of most PH cars you can buy today for the money. Especially if you want the TVR experience but have to transport the family around these days. Take one to your local exhaust specialist for a louder soundtrack and revel in muscle car heaven; it's what the British car industry should be making today. Seems we need the Australians, with a large helping of US grunt to make the ideal, cost effective (relatively speaking) family transport.
As I came off the M1 towards Vauxhall HQ I came alongside a Prius at the roundabout. As the traffic cleared I floored the accelerator making lots of noise and leaving the little Toyota standing there. Now while Vauxhall have made the VXR8 very efficient indeed in terms of emissions, you know that the Prius family hated me at that point. As I grabbed third and the noise started all over again I reminded myself why I want to live in a world of loud, fast, petrol driven cars for as long as I possibly can. I want one of these cars. Badly.††