Vauxhall’s thundering VXR8 GTS is as fast with its optional new automatic box as it is in manual form.
That’s what Vauxhall’s official figures say, with both models charging to 60mph in 4.2 seconds. But instead of the sound and fury that goes with changing gear yourself (not to mention the lairy wheelspin), the brutal acceleration this car is all about has somehow become less exciting.
The auto box, which is controlled by paddles on the steering wheel, has been added to the VXR8’s options list with a £1725 price tag. The engine remains the same, a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 with 577bhp and 436lb ft, but the plugged-in level of engagement you get from the manual model isn’t there.
It’s quiter, for one thing. This would be seen as a positive on most cars, but the VXR’s rorty soundtrack is one of its strongest suits, and anything that makes it less remarkable has got to be a mark against it.
Worse yet, despite what the figures say it simply doesn’t feel as fast in auto form. There’s nothing to criticise about the paddle shifters, but the immediacy of a manual box is missing.
It still surges along, though, and with that much less noise in the cabin it starts to feel more like a fast luxury saloon than a four-seat coupe. You can choose from a menu of suspension settings which, at their most focused, will have your passengers grumbling every bit as much as they make you smile, but stay sensible on ride quality and it’s as comfortable as it is well-appointed.
That might well read like the ultimate insult to VXR fans, who delight in their vehicles’ hairy-chested image. But with the quieter, smoother delivery of all that power, the VXR8 auto is a very different beast to its manual sibling.
Whether that means it’s a car that makes sense is a different matter. It’s not as entertaining as the manual, and as well as costing so much more to buy it’ll guzzle fuel like nobody’s business – especially if you try to have fun. It’s less demanding this way, but less rewarding too – and that makes the addition of an auto box feel like a classic case of trying to fix what ain’t broke.
2015 Vauxhall VXR8 GTS automatic
Engine: 8 cyls, 6162cc, supercharged, petrol
Power: 577bhp at 6150rpm
Torque: 546lb ft at 3850rpm
Gearbox: 6-spd automatic
Top speed: 155mph
Economy: 18.0mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 373g/km / 37%Reuse content