What is it?
It's likely that only obsessive fans of Aussie muscle saloons will have noticed when the Vauxhall VXR8 was quietly dropped from the pricelists several months ago. Stocks of the existing model, which was based on the 2008 HSV Clubsport, have sold out, and the next version isn't going to arrive until next year.
In the meantime Vauxhall has opted to top up interest levels by bringing over one of the 'E2' versions of the current GTS. The 'E2' has received both a fairly substantial facelift and a package of mechanical tweaks and gives us an early look at what's likely to become Vauxhall's next 'Pommodore.'
What’s it like?
Visually the makeover includes a handsome new front end, 20-inch HSV alloys and daytime running lights. Under the bonnet the bigger 6.2-litre V8 boosts power to 436bhp, a 11bhp increase on the old '8. Working together with the introduction of a new 'launch control' system - only available with the manual gearbox - that means the HSV now manages a 4.9-second 0-62mph time.
Suspension settings have also been revised and adaptive dampers added to the spec list. On first impressions the GTS feels a fair bit firmer than the previous VXR8, but the instinctively adjustable chassis balance of the old car is still in place. It's never going to feel nimble, but once turned in there's plenty of adhesion and - unlike the VXR8 which suffered from unexpected power oversteer in the wet, the E2's stability control system now seems up to the task of reigning in the engine's meaty torque output.