Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review

Published:11 October 2006

Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5

Hang on, isn't the Monaro dead?

Not yet, mate. The Aussie-built Calibra-for-the-Millennium Monaro VXR refuses to go quietly. And rightly so. You see it's all thanks to Greens Vauxhall dealership and tuning outfit Wortec. Between them they have conceived a tiny volume, mammoth power special breed of Monaro. The VXR 500. Officially the fastest ever production Vauxhall, it makes the Lotus Carlton seem like a minicab…

VXR 500? As in Bathurst 500 and The Fender Bender 500?

VXR 500 as in 500bhp, delivered by a supercharger bolted on top of the 6.0-litre ex-Corvette V8 lurking beneath those bonnet nostrils. You also get a satanic exhaust note and relentless acceleration. Big smiles, big drifts and big speeding fines. Being rather enthusiastic fans of GM's Australian muscle, Greens and Wortec proved to Vauxhall UK they could build a 600bhp blown version reliable enough to sell with a warranty. The VXR 500 was given the green light. Which is why you can either buy a brand new one now, or simply get the basic kit retro fitted to your existing Monaro 6.0-litre for £4995.

Do the right thing and run us through the spec…

Well, all VXR 500s start out as 6.0-litre VXRs, which Greens then transform in a day (they’re nifty with the old Snap-ons) by bolting on the Harrop supercharger, remapping the engine management and upgrading the fuel injectors to cope with the forced induction. Although the VXR 500 uses the original hefty six-speed manual gearbox, slight revisions have also been made to the plumbing of the hydraulic clutch to ensure no overheating issues occur.

I bet it whines a lot...

Rest assured, you're left in no doubt that this car is supercharged. The belt driven Harrop blower is so vocal, it sounds like Janet Street-Porter on a bad day. Although only preliminary performance tests have been carried out, the VXR 500 will see 60mph from rest in 4.8 seconds compared to the 5.2secs of the normally aspirated version Terminal speed? 'It's definitely over 180' says Brian Richards of Greens Vauxhall, who masterminded the project. 'But we haven't found a big enough stretch of road yet. Powerwise, I have a dyno print out of 503bhp, but we prefer to understate power figures, hence the 500 name'. The delivery of power is a relentless surge, right from as low as 1200rpm. In its previous guise the torque was impressive, but now it's monstrous. Floor the pedal and the Monaro's rump squats like a dog with worms and rockets away. If the term muscle car ever needed redefining…

It costs silly money, surely...

Amazingly not. It's actually cheaper than the 'normal' VXR. Hear us out. A forecourt fresh normally aspirated VXR Monaro currently costs £36,995, but Greens will sell you a brand new VXR 500 for just £35,995. So that's a £1000 discount for having over 100bhp more. Wortec even report improved mpg, thanks to an ECU remap. We managed 19.5mpg out of this test car over a combination of motorways and B-roads. Not bad for a 500bhp 6.0-litre. Plus, service costs are no different to normally aspirated Monaros, as the 'charger is a low maintenance sealed self-lubricating unit. A VXR 500 can be serviced at any Monaro-friendly Vauxhall dealer.

Are there any other approved Monaro modifications available?

The Phantom Black car we tested came equipped with the optional AP Racing brake upgrade, comprising six piston front calipers with 363mm grooved drilled discs and four pot rears with 330mm discs (£2595 fitted). It also featured UK road friendly bespoke adjustable Wortec/AVO suspension (£1695 fitted), a RipShifter to shorten the cumbersome gear throw (£490 fitted) and the mother of all stainless dual exhausts (£960 fitted). The latter is instant ASBO ammo, but it's some 20kg lighter than the stock unit and sounds wonderful. Highly recommended. The final tab tips £41k, but these choice components make a massive difference to unlocking the Monaro's every bhp on the road

Verdict

We liked the original Monaro VXR – enjoyed its raw muscle and unsanitised driving sensation. The VXR 500 has taken the 'big engine up front, rear drive, tough manly gearshift' recipe and evolved the Monaro into what is probably the truest muscle car on sale today. Even alongside machines such as the BMW M6 – a car that costs twice the price – the 500 dishes out a generous right hook. This is real horsepower harnessed inside a real four-seat coupe that delivers astounding value, road manners, surprising mpg and genuine usability. And for all these reasons it's the ultimate unsung hero. Aussies aren't getting this version. We Brits should rejoice and feel privileged...

Specs

Price when new: £35,995
On sale in the UK: No longer
Engine: 5967cc supercharged V8, 500bhp @ 6400rpm, 500lb ft @ 3200rpm
Transmission: Six speed manual, rear wheel drive
Performance: 4.8sec 0-60mph, 10.9sec 0-100mph, 180+mph, 19.5mpg (est)
Weight / material: 1687kg /steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4789/1841/1397

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  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR500 (2006) review
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