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By Ben Barry
31 May 2007 04:23
During the car’s early development, Holden singled out the E39 BMW 528i as the car to beat, and you can certainly feel the Bimmer’s influence. The VXR8 feels agile and chuckable and it can be flung into and out of corners with an engaging wrist-flick action. And it excels as a drift machine. The steering may lack real hand-on-tarmac feel, but its generous lock makes it easy to catch the back when it steps out. The rear diff lets you melt the big 19-inch rear tyres into the tarmac and create plumes of smoke that a stunt plane would be proud of. Lots of juvenile fun, then. The VXR8 does have a lower grip threshold than the best from BMW and AMG, but it's exploitable and driver-friendly. You need to be assertive if you up the ante, though. You need big balls and bigger muscles if you want to take this 1831kg bouncer of a car and throw it about. Its controls may be user-friendly light, but it won’t tolerate those limp of wrist and clumsy of foot.
The VXR8 feels very Australian – big, comfortable and an effortless high-speed cruiser. Burbling along the national limit in sixth gear with just 2000rpm dialled up, the Vauxhall feels incredibly refined and composed with an inaudible engine note, the barest whisper of wind rustle and only a faint thrum from the 275-section rubber. The VXR’s chassis feels strong and robust, and the suspension is supple enough to sponge away all but the largest thumps and bumps. But there’s also a surprising level of lean through corners, and although body control is by and large pretty tight, the suspension struggles on long undulations. While the lesser Commodore GTS gets an Audi-style Magnetic Ride Control system, which kicks in to stiffen the dampers during enthusiastic cornering, the Clubsport-based VXR8 doesn’t because it would, according to Vauxhall, nudge the VXR8’s price up to £40,000. Pity.
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Vauxhall VXR8 (2007) CAR review
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