You can tell that they’re itching to mention cricket. And I’m absolutely certain that more than once over the three days a muttering of ‘Pommie b*****d’ is bitterly gulped back. But not once do I have to use my carefully prepared ‘I’m sure Webber will get up to Coulthard’s pace soon’ retort. It’s an unprecedented, almost unsettling display of Antipodean restraint and the only possible explanation I can think of is that the Aussies must really really want us to like this car.
Yes, it’s badged a Vauxhall but, like the Monaro before it, the only part of this VXR8 to come from Luton is the Griffin badge. What you’re looking at is a Holden, which will be shipped to our shores from one of the sunnier parts of GM’s global empire on the other side of the world.
The fundamentals of the VXR8 are based on the all-new ‘VE’ Commodore, a car designed from scratch inside Holden HQ at Fisherman’s Bend just outside Melbourne. The Commodore was launched last year and has subsequently been draped with laurels by the local titles: it was Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year and Motor magazine’s ‘Bang for your Buck’ champion. But the Commodore is merely the foundation for the VXR8 – your basic 5-series or E-class underpinnings, if you like.
The final car is the product of HSV, Holden Special Vehicles, the Aussie firm’s M Division, its AMG. The VXR8 (badged as a Clubsport R8 in the land of Madge Bishop) has a huge, 126mm longer wheelbase within the same overall body length, while the track has been widened by 33mm at the front and 41mm at the rear. Visually, the front end gets flared wheelarches with distinctive ‘E’ vents tucked on their trailing edges. At the back there are totally new light-clusters complete with ultra- bright LED rings for the brake lights. There’s also a rear diffuser and a big rear wing, although they’re more style statements than wind tunnel-honed necessities.
2008 – 2010
London Motor Show
Ellsmere Port, England
~337.89 kph / 210 mph
0 – 60 mph
0 – 100 mph
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