Thursday, 4 April 2013

Vauxhall VXR220 - Driven

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a squash ball, a micro-second after being smashed in the arse by a racquet wielded by an angry man with a bicep like a rolled-up Yellow Pages? You should drive a VXR220...

This scarlet bombshell was one of the cars I was fortunate enough to drive this week, thanks to the kindly souls at the Vauxhall Heritage Centre. And this is no ordinary VX220 either - that extra letter is important: the VXR220 is a super-rare skunkworks lunatic, taking the regular 220 and turning the wick up to rather nutty levels. The reskinned Elise's 2.0i Turbo 16v four-pot produces 217 bhp. Not impressed? Bear in mind that the car weighs around 900kg... this means it'll accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds. Which is, to use standard industry terminology, really bloody fast.
The VXR is recognisable by its gunmetal Speedline five-spokes and vast AP Racing brakes. Just sixty of them were built, and you can see from the plate on the dash of this car that it's build no. 00.

Driving the VXR220 is like a combination of playing Wipeout on your old PlayStation and that bit in Spaceballs when they go to Ludicrous Speed. Everything arrives much quicker than you expect it to, the otherworldly thrust defying physics to pull the horizon toward you. The howling engine sits inches behind your head, and is mated to a short-throw gearshift that enjoys the sort of millimetric precision you'd normally find within a Swiss watch. The noise is amusing, the thrust addictive. Yes, the steering wheel is the size of a shirt button and there's no physical way to enter or exit the car with even a micron of dignity, but that all adds to the purposeful ceremony of the VXR220. It really is a very silly car. In the best possible way.

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