“I honestly wasn’t expecting the kind of explosive performance that the VXR Turbo delivers, it’s a dead set point to point weapon”
None. It’s pretty well appointed but the highlights are the huge 19-inch wheels and superb leather trimmed Recaro seats.
Recommended Retail Price: $42,990
There’s only one model in the VXR range and numbers are limited as they are fully imported from Vauxhall in the UK. An auto version would open this car up to many more punters in Australia and I'm told they do, or have done, an automatic version in the UK. So I'll check on that and report back.
Where it sits
The VXR is the entry-level HSV car and it does the badge proud. There is a significant jump in price (around $20K) to get into an R8 ClubSport, which is the next price-point in the HSV line-up.
There are plenty of pretend sports models out there with try-hard sports badging and non-aerodynamic body kits that do more to retard a car’s performance than enhance it.
Worse still, is when carmakers use the term ‘race bred’ to promote cars which are more likely to be lapped by a Porsche FS Evolution bicycle.
The VXR Turbo is race bred all right. Try the hard core; take no prisoners racing that is the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) where this car has run as part of Vauxhall’s (the GM brand in the UK) VX Racing team since 2005 when the VXR was launched.
This is a seriously quick hatch that can cook a Golf GTI and smoke Honda’s S2000 and Civic Type R, straight out of the box.
Starting this angry child for the first time is nothing spectacular. In fact, Suzuki’s mildly warm, Swift Sport, has a similar idle note from what I remember of that car.
But don’t be fooled. Under the bonnet of the VXR lies a red-hot 2.0i 16v ECOTEC-4 turbo punching out 177kW at 5600rpm and 320Nm of the all-important torque, from a low 2400rpm.
Volkswagen’s 2.0L Turbo Golf GTI puts out 147kW and 280Nm, which is good for a 0-100km/h sprint in 7.5 seconds in six-speed manual guise.
The VXR with run between 6.2 – 6.4 seconds, as maximum turbo boost nudges 1.2 bar or 17.5 plus psi.
By now, you’ll be thinking that’s a lot of mumbo for the front wheels to handle all by themselves and you’d be quite right.
When you blast off in the VXR, it’s not all-smooth sailing. There’s torque steer for sure, but it’s not a pig like the Mazda3 MPS. You just need to use a little finesse with the throttle and things will work out fine. Just take it easy in the wet!
You can hear the forced induction (Darth Vader style) every time you hit the clutch as you swap gear ratios with the speed and ease that this box allows.
But they also have their B roads, which are as rough as most of our suburban goat tracks and the Poms do like to whinge about their B roads, as much as we whinge about ours.
What I’m leading to here is that the suspension set-up on the VXR has been designed to run on these B roads with a reasonable degree of comfort in mind.
And they haven’t done a bad job, given the racecar like chassis and those extra large 19-inch alloys. Speed bumps and general potholes are absorbed via the old school McPherson Strut front suspension and a torsion-beam rear axle.
There’s also a small and rather insignificant “Sport” button on the centre stack, which I’m ashamed to say I overlooked during my time with the car. I’m usually first to hit these suspension stiffening devices but missed the opportunity entirely. Apart from the shock treatment, throttle travel is shortened and steering response is quicker. Just what the doctor ordered, I say.
An IDS chassis control system with Electronic Stability Control utilising traction control, ABS and Brake assist work hard to smooth out what is a serious dose of torque levelled at the front wheels at times.
You also need some decent fade-free brakes to pull this thing up effectively when sheer youthful enthusiasm gets the better of you...
Don’t bother looking for fancy Brembo brake systems with multi piston callipers and that kind of kit on the VXR. There’s none of that. What there is though, are bright blue single piston callipers front and back, with some dinner plate sized rotors which have no trouble hauling in this ‘Fast and Furious’ like machine.
The sculptured leather Recaros are top shelf and supremely comfortable although, quite firm. You also get a proper sports steering wheel, which is grooved and looks to be hand stitched. The shifter is also a showpiece. All the important stuff seems to be here.
I found the instrument cluster hard to read and suggest VXR drivers would benefit enormously from a digital Speedo readout (again found on the R8 ClubSport and GTS models).
Fuel tank capacity is 52 litres, fine for a car which is shorter than a Ford Focus. The VXR likes premium unleaded, nothing wrong with that either, we use it in the family Liberty.
But here’s the thing, official fuel consumption is listed at 9.2L/100 km but don’t expect anywhere near that when you’re on song at 5000 plus rpm, more like 14 L/100 km. I’m not complaining mind you, it’s the price you pay for performance motoring. Just glad this thing weighs in at 1393kg and not a kilo more.
Safety is not forgotten either, and includes driver and passenger front and side airbags, as well as full-length curtain airbags.
There’s a song called “I like fast cars that go boom” by a band called Hellbent. The HSV VXR Turbo is one of those cars”