It seems ironic that on the same day that Vauxhall announces its revolutionary Ampera Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) will cost under £30k when it hits UK showrooms in early 2012, that they also choose to re-introduce the 6.2-litre V8-engined VXR8.

This new VXR8 is based on the Holden HSV’s E3 GTS model, just launched in Australia, whereas the previous VXR8 came from the old version of the lower-spec ClubSport R8. The new VXR8 takes on board the E3 GTS’ heavily revised front and rear-end styling, a new cabin and a raft of new technology to enhance its appeal as one of the last, great rear-drive V8 saloons.

A new, ‘Shockwave’ grille, LED daytime running lights and sleek new wing-vents mark the new car out from the front, while the rear features a new ‘Superflow’ rear spoiler, LED tail lamps and twin exhaust tips that mimic the shape of the front grille.

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As you can see from these first official press shots of a Hazard Yellow painted car, the new VXR8 is unlikely to be accused of blending in..

As before, the new VXR8’s chassis uses MacPherson struts/progressive rate coil springs at the front and a multi-link independent set-up at the rear. But for the first time on a VXR8, Vauxhall has employed Magnetic Ride Control (MRC), a suspension system which adapts up to 1000 times a seconds to road conditions and driver inputs.

Based on technology used in GM’s current Corvette ZR1 supercar, MRC works by sending an electric current through damper units filled with ‘soft’ magnetic particles. These particles harden as the input reaches its maximum value, providing drivers with exceptional levels of ride, handling and stopping power.

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This is the 2012 Vauxhall Ampera Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV), it does NOT have a 6.2-litre V8 and as far as we know is unlikely to be fitted with launch control..


Complementing the new VXR8’s MRC is Launch Control, which is engaged when drivers select the ESC’s (Electronic Stability Control) Competition Mode. The system dictates the level of torque delivered to the rear wheels for maximum acceleration, according to surface conditions. All the driver has to do is floor the throttle and let the car do the rest. Extensive testing has proved that LC results in acceleration runs no more than 0.1 second apart.

Of course, no VXR8 would be complete without a large-capacity V8, and this latest version doesn’t disappoint. The fourth generation 6.2-litre LS3 unit produces 425bhp and a massive 550Nm of torque, enough to propel the VXR8 from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds and on to a governed top speed of 155mph. As before, drive is delivered to the rear axle via either a six-speed manual or auto transmission, working through a mechanical limited slip differential.

Inside, the new VXR8 has undergone a transformation. Full leather trim is now standard, and front occupants are cocooned in special HSV Performance Seats with eight-way adjustability. A new instrument cluster and surround, centre stack and switchgear provide a cleaner and more integrated look, while standard equipment also includes Aux-in/USB inputs, iPod support and Bluetooth with phone book display and touch-screen dialling.

For drivers who want to engage with their VXR8 like never before, Vauxhall has introduced EDI, or Enhanced Driver Interface. EDI connects with the on-board computer to constantly stream real-time vehicle dynamics and performance to the car’s main 5-inch monitor. At the touch of the screen, drivers can access a variety of data such as vehicle G-forces, power and torque and lap times – even the degree to which their VXR8 is drifting. Completing the clever package is the ability for drivers to download data, such as track day performance, and analyse it using the MOTEC i2 software provided.

Befitting its exclusivity, the VXR8 is now available through just six highly specialist VXR dealers in the UK, though a total of 34 VXR outlets will be authorised to maintain the model and is priced at £49,500 (inc. 20 per cent VAT).

Vauxhall choose to compare the new VXR8 with the considerably more powerful Audi RS6, Jaguar XFR and Mercedes E63 AMG – but it’s most unlikely that anyone would be choosing between Vauxhall’s Aussie immigrant and these super-exec saloons. Neither would we expect the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG to be on the same shopping list, although there is a certain brotherhood of kindred spirits to which all these rear-drive V8 saloons belong.

What’s also certain is that cars such as the VXR8 are not long for this world, so pick up your own future classic while you still can.