Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Vauxhall Calibra V6 - Driven

OK, I'll be honest - I wasn't expecting to like the Calibra. I've never really been a huge fan of them; it's not that I actively dislike them, they've just never really done anything for me. And seeing this one parked up alongside a number of other heritage Vauxhalls that were begging to be driven, including a Firenza, mkI & II Astra GTEs and a VXR220, it didn't exactly get me itching to leap in and take it out for a spin.
But perhaps this is the ideal start for a road test. If you're not expecting to be impressed, it makes it all the more satisfactory when you are. The V6 Calibra is a genuinely entertaining car, and I have a new-found respect for it. Its humble Cavalier underpinnings are clothed in a very slippery coupe shape and, while you might think that shoehorning a heavy V6 into the nose would make the handling go all wonky, it's actually rather a sure-footed little thing. Alright, it'll never compete with overt sports cars that have been designed from the ground up to be performance machines, but if you view it as more of a bargain basement GT, it starts to make a lot of sense. With this highly-specced V6 model you get acres of leather inside, BBS wheels and all manner of electric trinketry. That 2.5-litre, 24v, DOHC ECOTEC V6 offers 167bhp, which is more than enough to get the traction control light flashing at you through the first three gears, while the car pulls off that happy trick of being a quiet, refined cruiser when you're trundling through traffic, and transmuting into a bit of a hooligan when you're out alone on the open road.
A perception challenged here, then, and comprehensively altered. I rather like the Calibra. And I've never said that before.

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