Holden’s E3 GTS Transforms into the 2012 Vauxhall VXR8 in Britain

Based on Holden’s most recent E3 series GTS model, the 2012 Vauxhall VXR8 will hit UK dealers next March, featuring several improvements over the previous model, which was built on the lower-spec ClubSport R8. Priced at £49,500 (VAT included), the new model is still considered a bargain in the country, considering that there’s a 6.2-liter V8 powerhouse under the bonnet.

The VXR8 undercuts the competition, such as the Mercedes E63 AMG, by between £13k and £29k, and even performance saloons from the class below, like the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG, but truth be said, it was always a little rough around the edges. Some consider that a perk, others a drawback. Nevertheless, the VXR8 was mildly revised for the 2012 model year, featuring a redesigned grille, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, new wing vents and rear spoiler.

Inside, there’s an updated instrument cluster and full leather trim is standard. Other amenities include HSV Performance Seats and an Enhanced Driver Interface (EDI), which is a fancy name for a smarter onboard computer. EDI can record such data as G-forces, engine parameters and lap times, which can be later analyzed by owners using special software provided with the car.

In order to deliver performance that’s worth recording, the VXR8 comes with a fourth generation GM-sourced LS3 engine, delivering 431 ponies and 550 Nm (407 lb-ft) of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels, either through a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic transmission. A limited slip differential comes as standard.

The 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) sprint takes just 4.9 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph (250 km/h).

To improve handling, engineers fitted the VXR8 for the first time with electronically controlled dampers. The system is called Magnetic Ride Control and it’s based on technology borrowed from the Corvette ZR1.

The VXR8 can be ordered in the UK through six dealers at the moment, but it will be available in a total of 34 locations later on.

By Csaba Daradics