The Vauxhall VXR8 picks up where the tearaway Monaro left off, except with a welcome dose of maturity; the four-door body is more usable, the clutch lighter and the chassis balance more sophisticated. Except you can’t domesticate an Aussie bruiser that easily.

For all the improvements, the VXR8 remains a rough diamond. The clunky gearbox and poor visibility are reminders that the car still has a lot to learn in refinement terms.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Good balance, brutish engine. Unrefined, but value counters this

While we can live with most of these compromises, the rear axle judder under braking does give us cause for continuing concern.

Yet despite the odd rough edge, the thirst and the fact that despite the huge engine and meaty soundtrack it isn’t that quick, it’s difficult not to fall for the big Vauxhall. It deserves praise, because what it’s not short on is character. Sometimes that matters more than ride quality or interior plastics.

With the financial climate being as it is, however, we should celebrate the fact that Vauxhall is offering the VXR8 at all, and that a handful of people every year will get to take delivery of a car with such a uniquely engaging character.

Pricey it may be, but this is still a fantastic and fast alternative in the category.

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