Wednesday, 29 May 2013 11:12 AM
It’s a bit of an animal indeed. Not content with being a 275mm rear tyre's worst enemy, the Vauxhall VXR8 gets an Eaton supercharger to up the grunt; declaring all out war on the now entirely trembling black rubber hoops. There will be no prisoners with the 576bhp and 545lb ft of torque now on offer. On sale now at £54,999, the new VXR8 is a mere £5k dearer than the old, less powerful car.
‘The very fact that cars like the VXR8 GTS still exist proves that there is a small, but immensely passionate band of customers out there who want to drive something which is unique and special,’ said Stuart Harris, Vauxhall’s Head of Carline Brand. ‘In its new GTS form the VXR8 offers colossal power and torque in a package that is more technology-led than ever before, yet still retains that unique VXR8-character that no BMW or Mercedes can match. It’s also around £20k less than its main rivals – the M5 and E63 AMG – yet has more power than either.’ Excellent, as Monty Burns would say.
Wild styled indeed, but the new VXR8 GTS is all about motor. Under the bulging hood is the supercharged LSA V8 (as seen in the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1); it thumps out 576bhp and 545lb ft of torque, an increase of 150bhp and 140lb ft over the outgoing, LS3-engined VXR8. Performance stats are yet to be confirmed, but the old VXR8 hits 60mph in 4.9 seconds, and that’s without the pumping supercharger. I see much tyre smoke in the future of this one.
The Eaton supercharger strapped to the mighty V8 motor doesn’t really have to do too much work to add a great deal to the VXR8’s power-party; a mere 9psi of boost pressure is sufficient for much silliness. Joining the rear tyres in fear of brutality will be the latest MG9 6-speed manual transmission with an oil cooler and twin-plate clutch, but I expect it’s been built with suitably wide ‘shoulders’ on which to carry the bhp load.
Other performance upgrades include a stand-alone water to air charge cooling system, separate transmission and differential cooling systems, a water to oil engine cooling system, a bi-modal air-intake system, and high-flow exhaust manifolds and exhaust system with bi-modal silencers. So, as the rpms rise, so will the dB for intake and exhaust.
Brake Torque Vectoring technology also debuts on the new VXR8 GTS, which helps to reduce understeer – as does flooring the gas! – by generating a ‘rotational moment’ in the rear axle while the car is under power. The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system detects the shameful understeer and applies the brake on the inside rear wheel, transferring torque to the outside rear wheel; preventing the front end from pushing wide and tightening the turning line.
Also helping on the fast ‘n’ flat cornering front is the third-generation Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system, with three independent settings: Touring, Sport and Track, while the braking is taken care of by large AP Racing forged 6061 T6 aluminium 6-piston calipers, biting two-piece discs.
New exterior styling – best to take a look while it’s still parked – starts with a twin-nostril front grille and an all-new front-end fascia; designed mainly around cooling and feeding that heated and gulping V8 – some 75 per cent more air-channelling area than the outgoing LS3-engined car.
Fashionable daytime running lights and 20-inch ‘Blade’ forged alloy wheels mingle with the LED rear lights, a rear diffuser and a raucous quad-exits exhaust. A GTS-only rear spoiler with black accents rounds off the fastest of Vauxhalls.
The new VXR8’s cabin is built for quick-comfort with an upgraded instrument panel with suede-style inserts, a new instrument cluster, gauges, centre console, and door trims. Of course you’ll be getting some cowhide with the electric and heated VXR Performance Seats wrapped in Onyx leather trim. It can all be yours by the end of the year – not too long to wait then for warp factor (VXR) 8!
By Daniel Anslow