Vauxhall goes BMW and Porsche baiting… again, with the 576bhp VXR8 GTS

Speaking from my own personal experience, it takes more than a hike in brake horse power to justify a lofty price. Vauxhall would like £54,999 for the VXR8 GTS, which makes it the most expensive model in the car maker’s range, but not (relatively speaking) the most expensive it has ever sold.

For that we turn to the Lotus Carlton (or Omega, as it was in the rest of Europe) which I remember almost buying back in 1990. £48,000 was all it took to own the 377bhp saloon, capable of 176mph and 0 to 100mph in a little over 11 seconds. At the time you could buy the cheaper (but much slower) E34 BMW M5 or a plain-vanilla 911 Carrera 2, which is what I eventually opted for.

Neither offered the Lotus Carlton’s effortless performance nor its jaw-dropping retardation, but eventually for me, the question which broke the spell was how much it would be worth once I’d had my fun. Despite that Lotus badge – it was a Vauxhall (or Opel) after all – and the market for a posh rep’s car was marginal back then, perhaps even more so now.

That’s the same ‘barrier’ facing Vauxhall here in 2013 with its 576bhp (Holden Monaro based) VXR8 GTS.

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  • Vauxhall-VXR8-GTS_G2
  • Vauxhall-VXR8-GTS_G3

Replacing the outgoing LS3-engined VXR8, the GTS takes the supercharged LSA V8 (identical to that used in the recently launched Chevrolet Camaro ZL1), and delivers 576bhp and 545lb-ft (739Nm) of torque – a whole 150bhp and 140lb-ft more.

Performance figures are yet to be confirmed, but with the normally aspirated VXR8 clocking 4.9 seconds to 60mph, the GTS is likely to offer at least half a second more, provided it can apply most (or at least some) of that extra power to the road.

While the VXR8 GTS may be £20k less than the latest M5 (567bhp in Competition Package spec) and nearly £30k under the 580bhp Mercedes E 63 AMG ‘S’, it’s around the same price as a 424bhp Audi RS4 or 450bhp Mercedes C63 AMG.

So, do you really need that extra 150bhp or would it be better in the long-run to choose a premium marque with all the bells and whistles that implies?

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Vauxhall hope you’ll choose the former. “The very fact that cars like the VXR8 GTS still exist proves that there is a small, but immensely passionate band of customers out there who want to drive something which is unique and special,” said Stuart Harris, Vauxhall’s Head of Carline Brand.

To tempt you even further, the VXR8 GTS will come fitted with a huge set of AP 6-piston calipers with two-piece discs front and rear (just like its Lotus-named predecessor), GM’s third-generation Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) and a fruity new bi-modal exhaust system.

You’ll also find a set of 20-inch tyres – 255/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) – with launch control, a brake torque vectoring system and a specially recalibrated stability control system.

The end result will be monstrously fast, but will it tempt buyers from the usual German suspects? I suspect Vauxhall have already done their sums and will moderate their production volumes accordingly.