Caught in the classifieds: 2009 Vauxhall VXR8 V8
I have to be honest, out of all the cars featured in our ďCaught In The ClassifiedsĒ segment over the past couple of months, this may be my favourite one to date. Itís a bit obscure and not a lot of people know what it is, but that just makes it better in my book.
If youíre a fan of large performance executive saloons (think E63 and BMW M5), then youíll love the VXR8, because itís a much cheaper alternative hailing from the land down under. Inspired by V8 supercars competing in the Australia Supercars Championship, the VXR8 is a genuine wolf in sheepís clothing.
Iíll talk about performance features and stats in a bit, but for now, hereís everything you need to know: This is a 2009 example with 76,000 miles on the clock, offer on our website for a little under £17,000. Given the fact that itís about as potent as most AMGs and M cars out there, this makes it incredible value for money. An equivalent AMG or M will set you back several thousand pounds more, and they wonít have the charm this thing has.
Visually, the VXR8 looks just like any other big saloon out there to the untrained eye. Yes, there are a few giveaway features, but letís take things step-by-step and start with the front. If youíre not a car enthusiast or a massive Vauxhall/Holden fan, you probably wonít even recognize this car on the road.
The front bumper has some large air openings in the middle, and the little trim piece above the small grille does say 6.2L, but apart from that, it doesnít give you any other indication that thereís something dark and sinister hiding underneath that bonnet. The headlights look fairly regular too, though I have to say that the xenon projects do a good job of illuminating the road at night.
From the side, it looks fairly ordinary and mundane too. The VXR-bespoke wheels are a big hint as to what it is, but thatís only if you can recognize the wheels to begin with. Itís a nicely proportioned car with a lovely rear overhang giving it an elongated look, but itís not anything that screams ĎI beat supercars on the dailyí at you.
The rear is where things start to get interesting because now you can see a VXR8 badge on the boot, a massive rear spoiler on top of it, and some significant quad exhausts hidden inside a giant diffuser-like element. Thereís even a little circular reflective light in the middle, a-la F1 or V8 Supercars.
The cabin is the least impressive aspect of the VXR8, but thatís not to say itís necessarily bad. Compared to most of its German rivals, the VXR8 uses cheaper materials and some scratchy plastics here and there, but itís not anything you couldnít live with. On the whole, the build quality is good and it has all the necessary features to make it an excellent daily: radio, A/C, etc.
The important part is that everything else that matters is absolutely super. Look at those seats for instance. Theyíve got an insane amount of lateral support, both on the backrest and on the lower portion. Theyíre extremely plush too. You could drive a VXR8 for hours on end and still walk out as fresh as you were when you got in it.
The steering wheel feels a tad too large and chunky, and Iím not a big fan of that bulbous gear selector in the middle, but itís a 10-year-old car and it was built to a cost, so I canít complain too much.
Engine and Performance
You donít buy a VXR8 for its looks or its interior, but for its engine and the way it drives. The first-gen VXR8 came with a 6.0-litre V8 LS2, but facelift models, like this particular example, carry a 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated LS3 V8. Itís the same engine found in the C6 Corvette and the Camaro SS.
The VXR8ís V8 produces 425 horsepower and a whopping 405 lb-ft of torque. It can hit 62 mph in 4.9 seconds and go on to a governed top speed of 155 mph. I know that acceleration figure doesnít sound too impressive on paper by todayís standards, but the VXR8 feels blisteringly quick in the real world.
Because the big V8 delivers a huge amount of lazy torque at any point in the rev range, the car just picks up and scoots whenever you plant your foot. From 30 or 40 mph it feels much more potent than any turbo car because thereís no throttle lag. The brakes are massive too, so it can stop as well as it goes.
Looking at it, you might think it goes great in a straight line but it struggles in the corners, being as large as it is, but thatís where youíd be wrong. The chassis is surprisingly stiff but not harsh. It handles body roll well for such a large car, but the damping is still compliant, even though slightly more bumpy than a regular HSV.
Being rear-wheel-driven, thereís oversteer whenever you want it. Since itís got a long wheelbase, controlling the slide using the steering and the throttle pedal is ridiculously easy. Seriously, if you want to be a hooligan, this is one of the easiest cars for it. Not that we condoning honing on the public highway, of course. You should always take your car to a track to explore its limits in a safe environment.
Model: Vauxhall VXR8
Trim: Auto 4dr
If youíre in the market for a performance saloon and youíre not worried about the badge or just want something different, consider checking out the used Vauxhall VXR8 cars for sale on DesperateSeller.co.uk. Itís seriously practical, looks inconspicuous (for the most part), has a massive V8 under the bonnet, and it goes like stink. Oh, and the noise it makes is pretty spectacular too.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 9.5 out of 10
View the car here: 2009 Vauxhall Vxr8 - £16,950