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  1. #1
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    14th December 2005

    Default What the Press said about the VXR220
    Date: June 2004
    By: Owen Mildenhall
    Launched with a huge fanfare at the British Motor Show, Vauxhall's VXR performance cars promise to be the most driver-focused range ever offered by the Luton manufacturer. Now we've been given the opportunity to take the wheel of the first models to see if they live up to the claims.
    The standard VX220 is uncompromisingly sporty anyway, but the VXR gets a meaner look, with black exterior detailing, Alcantara sports seats and matt black interior trim. However, with a sports model such as the VX, it's the handling improvements that will win it fans - and anyone changing to the VXR from a normal VX220 Turbo will be impressed. Lotus' chassis engineers have honed the car to appeal to drivers who use their machines
    On Track.
    Where the standard model squats at the rear as you turn in, giving a light front end and some understeer, the VXR steers more accurately and the chassis remains poised, leading to higher cornering speeds and greater stability. In addition to the sharper body control, this model features a new ABS brake servo and performance pads, resulting in improved feel and better bite when you use the middle pedal.
    While track prowess is impressive, on the road it's as driveable as the standard car. Performance is improved, too, thanks to the revised ECU, which has upped the power by 20bhp to 220bhp.
    So what's the downside? Unfortunately, only 65 VXRs are being made - and there are just 18 left unsold.
    First Opinion
    With sharper handling, better brakes and more power, the VXR220 is the best VX to date - and one of the most focused sports cars we have driven. It's strictly a limited edition, and only a few remain unsold, but if you hurry, it's a great way to stand out from the track day crowd.

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    Default VXR220, 2.0iT,, 6/7/04
    By: Tom Ford
    Date: July 6th, 2004
    The Yorkshire Moors, a Vauxhall VXR220: A Driving Moment. Roads that roll and roll like a narrowboat in Atlantic swell are carved and slit by the VXR's steering, so sharp and precise that I doubt Yorkshire even feels a thing. Blazing sunshine is making the plus-size sheep sweat themselves into meaty little cotton buds and my contact lenses have welded themselves to my eyeballs because I keep forgetting to blink. Like a five-year-old full of fizzy pop and ice-cream, I'm going off my head with hyperactivity and feel slightly sick, but won't stop bombing around like I forgot my lithium.
    Stamp the newly enlarged cross-drilled brakes and the nose dips a fraction as the trees snap into focus for a moment before you hit the gas yet again. The bwap-bwaaaaap of the fat exhaust gets tingly and metallic the further up the rev-range you reach until, just as you crest that hillock of torque and power, you peer over the edge and slap another gear from the chunky ex-Astra gearbox. The wind rush eventually scoops the richness of the sound away from your ears, leaving a more muted fricative soundtrack, but it's a fine thing to be doing on a sunny day, burned forehead and all. A good day to be driving a car like this.
    But what is it, this new version of the VX220? Well, The VXR220 begins with a stock VX220 Turbo. To this is added some fairly standard performance tuning parts, the most obvious of which are a new turbo, reprogrammed electronic control unit (the ECU - basically the engine's 'brain') and bigger-bore exhaust. Slap on a free-flow air filter to make the thing breathe properly and, hey presto, you have 220bhp and, more importantly, 214lb ft of turbo torque. That's 20bhp-plus and another 15 or so lb ft up on the standard car. There's more to come on the suspension front too, because the VXR has some 10 per cent more torsional rigidity than a standard car, allowing the suspension to do its job without chassis flex messing up all the geometry. A wobbly chassis can often murder brilliant suspension. The suspension itself is different again from standard, with an uprated and lowered Bilstein spring and damper package coupled to new Speedline Corse black wheels and Yokohama A048 semi track-biased rubber.
    It works. With 16-inch wheels on the front of the car and 17s on the back pair, plus those slightly wider tyres (the standard Turbo runs narrower 17-inch front wheels as standard), the VXR has more response, better turn-in and more front end grip than any other VX. It also loses the crash and thump that the standard car suffers from when blatting down a British backroad with more tarmac acne than the average greasy teen. I haven't driven a car this much fun since the Lotus Elise 111R a couple of months ago.
    Ooops. The unmentionable. The Lotus. The VX is developed by the same people who bring you the Elise - it's the same hydroformed and bonded aluminium chassis - and as the Elise has progressed, so has the VX. And just like the newest Elise, where the VXT used to bounce, the VXR is supple and damped like a VW grab handle. Where it used to give in to understeer if you carried a bit too much speed into a corner, the VXR digs deep and simply turns directly from your wrists.
    A lot of the feel is down to those tyres which, when they get a little heat into them, Velcro themselves unswervingly to the tarmac. On a hot sunny day they must knock 10mph off your top speed as they increase your rolling resistance; like having sellotape sticky side down all over your tyres. It could also really do with a bit more throttle response. But overall, the VXR has been sympathetically tuned. It hasn't lost any of the driveability of the standard car. In fact, it betters it by some margin.
    Which makes me wonder why the standard VXT hasn't got these Bilstein dampers. You can specify an optional fully adjustable ?hlins suspension set-up too, but unless you plan to do lots of track work it's probably not worth the extra £1,000 over the standard set-up.
    The VXR only comes in red with black trim, which kind of lends it an air of an extremely grudge-laden mutant ladybird, or possibly a tomato that's been to prison. Inside, you get Lotus 111R sports seats re-trimmed with a VXR logo and fake carbon fibre bits. There's no radio, which matters not a jot. It costs a fiver short of £30k, and makes mincemeat of most supercars with acceleration to 60mph in just over four clicks of the second hand. The car is light, tactile and fun. Vauxhall has done a great job.
    But it's not hard to like small, super-fast roadsters on sunny days. I tend to like them as I enjoy other people's children; have fun with them, but feel rather glad handing them back when things start getting complicated. They have a limited appeal, in very specific situations. The VXR220 is just that little bit more special, though, that little bit more equal than the VX Turbo.
    I'd be tempted, if the finances stretched far enough, to have something like the VXR220 as a Sunday or track car. Enough to scare myself, but not enough to kill myself. And as a limited run of just 65, they'll make a nice halo car for the VX220 range and lend some credibility to forthcoming VXR-branded products. Try one if you can, you will have enormous fun. Just remember to blink.
    Three little letters that mean so much
    Let's face it: it's not exactly a revelation, this Vauxhall VXR business. It's making the basic car some 35-per-cent hotter than stock, garnishing with loudness and releasing back into the wild. Initial launch is with VXR versions of the new Monaro and VXR220 roadster. The VXR Monaro handles the big GT end of things, while the VXR220 is the track-focused racer-alike. In the case of the VX220 Turbo, there's a pretty sharp base car to start with. With the Monaro, well, sharp it ain't. On the basis of these cars, we're tentatively impressed, though the original cars are already characterful. The real test will come as we get the planned, UK-only 230bhp VXR version of the new Astra.
    Model: Vauxhall VXR220
    Rating: 16 out of 20
    We say: The best VX220 of the lot. More power and grip and better suspension. And it wasn't a shabby original
    Price: £29,995
    On your drive for: £750.44pcm
    Performance: 0-62mph in 4.2 secs, 153mph max speed, 33.2mpg
    Tech: 2.0 Turbo four, mid-engine, rwd, 220bhp, 214lb ft, 202g/km CO2

  3. #3
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    Default VXR220, 2.0iT,, 10/9/04
    Date: September 10th, 2004
    Upping the ante
    It isn't like the standard VX220 roadster is short of poke. Thanks to 200 turbocharged horsepower, our initial road test dubbed it 'completely and utterly exhilarating'. But 'completely and utterly' clearly just isn't good enough for those crazy suits at Vauxhall, so after a spot of head-scratching they've decided to launch VXR, a sporty sub-brand that'll be applied to a few Vauxhall models (we're guessing not Meriva). Think of VXR a bit like you would Ford's RS cars or, perhaps, if we're being generous, BMW's M range. VXRs are to get tuned engines, aggressive looks, and will only be available in limited numbers. The colour of the brand? Red. (Red ones go faster, after all.) And first up for the VXR treatment? The VX220.
    It's not a bad place to start. With a 930kg kerb weight and 200bhp, the VX is already lively. Nought to sixty takes 4.8 seconds and top-whack is 150mph. Vauxhall has added 10 percent more power by fitting a free-flow air-filter, reprogramming the ECU and fitting a new turbo. That sixty sprint falls to 4.2 seconds, top speed rises slightly, to 153mph. But drivability, unfortunately, suffers at the same time. The standard car enjoys a fairly wide and smooth powerband; power rises linearly and torque is nice and stable at a little over 184lb ft from 2000rpm through to almost 6000rpm, which makes it easy to punt along at ludicrous speed. The VXR's engine response is far removed. There's significantly less torque below 2,500rpm, it passes 184lb ft at about 3,000rpm and rises lumpily to around 207lb ft at about 4,000rpm. What was previously a rapid and responsive pull becomes astonishingly strong surges through the rev-band, capped with over-revving when you lift-off. Forward progress is punctuated rather bluntly too, the five-speed manual gearbox isn't, in all honesty, particularly positive or accurate. Though that may have just been our test car; most VXs we've tried previously have been better in this respect.
    Change of character
    change of power delivery in itself doesn't alter the whole character of the VXR from the standard VX, but coupled with the suspension changes and the tenaciously grippy Yokohama A048R tyres, which look like hand-cut slicks, do alter its personality. The standard VX feels lithe, agile, nimble and delicate. But with its surging power, uncouth drivetrain and immense traction and grip levels, the VXR220 has a far more sporting bent. The steering is heavier. Just as accurate, just as positive, but with bicep- rather than forearm-troubling feedback and feel. And when, on a track, the VX feels sprightly thanks to minimal but progressive roll and approachable levels of grip and traction, the VXR's springs and dampers resist body movements much more firmly. Only when you start to approach the massive limits of its grip are you aware of the car's mass, and you're then much more aware of it because you're cornering more quickly than the standard tyres would allow. In short, the regular VX220 is a great roadgoing sports car that's fairly handy on a race track. The VXR220 is a great track car that's fairly handy on the road.
    Lightweight plastic seats less than comfortable over distance
    Assuming, that is, that you'll put up with its foibles on public highways. Accessibility and comfort have never been VX220 strengths, but VXR further removes them from the equation. The ride is crashy in town, wind and road noise are abundant, and there's no stereo to drown them out. The usual dash-panel has been overlaid with a carbon-fibre insert, with a plaque at one end denoting the limited edition car's number. There'll only be 65, and they're £29,995 each. Anyway, there's no space in that carbon for the stereo, even though a couple of Blaupunkt speakers still nestle behind the seats. And blimey, those seats. The standard items aren't the last word in comfort, but the VXR gets lightweight plastic items, thinly padded and, while brilliantly supportive when pressing on, lower backache is only a few motorway junctions away. Otherwise the VX's practicality - decent boot, no leaks - make it relatively plausible everyday transport, but the VXR's rough edges put it a shade beyond that. On the plus side, it's beyond 'completely and utterly exhilarating' too, but if you do more road work than track work, then a standard VX220 might just prove exhilarating enough.

  4. #4
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    14th December 2005

    Default VXR220, 2.0iT,, 7/7/05
    Date: July 7th, 2005
    The VXR220 is a hoot on the track, but Mark Hales wonders why more of the Elise-based Vauxhall sports cars aren't sold
    Platform snobbery is a strange concept. A "platform" is automotive-speak for what used to be called a floorpan and is the pressed-steel basis of a modern monocoque car. It is also utterly, completely anonymous and yet I've lost count of the number of times people have said, "I wouldn't buy a Jaguar X-type, 'cos, really, it's a Ford platform with Jaguar badges… "How the hell they would know this if someone hadn't told them I can't imagine, because nobody could tell from the driver's seat.
    I go to launches where the smart questions at the press conference concern whether beneath the sheet metal lies an AO, or a B3, or a whatever platform. The inquisitor always nods in earnest satisfaction at the answer, as if this provides them with knowledge essential to the assessment of the product. It's nonsense but, perversely, nonsense that can work the other way round, too. I recently heard someone say he had decided to buy a Vauxhall VX220 rather than a Lotus Elise, because he preferred the looks, but it was all right because underneath it was a Lotus, not a Vauxhall. So that's all right then. Owners of Skoda Octavias doubtless feel the same way about Volkswagen.
    The VX220 has always been a good little car. It is so completely different from the rest of the Vauxhall range that the badge, surely, cannot matter, yet a mere 1,725 have been sold since its introduction in 2000, compared with 17,000 Elises since 1996. Both are based on the innovative, lightweight, glued-and-riveted Lotus chassis tub and apart from the shape of the glass-fibre body, the main difference between them has been a bigger engine. Always more muscular than the base Elise's 1·8-litre Rover, there was no doubt that the Vauxhall's 2·2-litre version of the Vectra's twin-cam four was slightly quicker round a lap than the basic Elise.
    Last year, newer engines only served to enhance the difference between the cars' characters; the Vauxhall turbo became tougher still from lower down, while the Toyota-engined Elise became a screaming ball of energy at the top end. Both cars are quicker thanks to the extra power but, despite very different styles of performance, there is still little to choose between them on a flying lap of a circuit. On the public road, however, that turbocharger makes the Vauxhall feel the faster.
    Meanwhile, the company is still trying to sportify the Griffin badge. The latest attempt is the VXR "brand within a brand", spearheaded by the limited edition VXR version of the Australian-built 5·8-litre Monaro (Telegraph Motoring, June 19) and a track day-focused VXR220 that is still made by Lotus at its Norfolk factory - carefully watched by people from Luton. The R-model features sportier seats and a splattering of matt black across the cabin's details, another 20 horsepower from a different turbocharger, a free-flow exhaust, stiffer suspension and some bigger brakes inside bigger, blacker five-spoke Speedline wheels fitted with sticky track-day-special tyres. You can have any exterior body colour as long as it's Calypso Red.
    So what difference does the "R" badge make? Well, to the casual observer, not a great deal, which is not to say that it hasn't been carefully done. It's just that with the "standard" turbo model alongside, the 60 lucky people who got to pay £29,995 would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Lest this whole launch sounds like something of an irrelevance, Vauxhall says that all the suspension and brake extras will be available as options. That just leaves a trip to a reputable engine reprogrammer and special exhaust emporium, of which there are many.
    On the track, the new car does feel sharper at the front and the brakes are firmer underfoot - not that the standard ones feel in any way limp under the same circumstances - but by comparison, the engine feels strangely lacking in turbo punch. The Lotus engineers said they have tried to shift the power further up the rev range, but, for me, the wallop that the standard one delivers from low down makes it more entertaining. On the public road, in any terms, both options are extremely quick; to reach 60mph from rest in five seconds or less then go on to a top speed approaching 150mph is definitely supercar territory. The bonus is the price tag and there's probably nothing for the same money which could get near a VX220 turbo - except its sibling Elise.
    Like the Elise, though, the VXR has a fractious side, requiring restraint especially on a wet road. On the other hand, such handling quirks make it a perfect tool with which to learn circuit driving techniques. Its light weight means it can stand the rigours of track use and still get you home with tyres and brakes to spare. The trip there and back might not be quiet, and you will definitely be shaken as well as stirred, but you can use it as everyday transport. You might not want to, but you could.
    The VXR, though, really only serves to highlight what a muscular, potent little car the existing 220 turbo is. Which is, of course, why they made it, and then made sure there weren't sufficient to go round. Go get the standard car. It's £4,500 cheaper, it's a bit more refined and it's loads of fun. And… it's a Vauxhall. Some mistake, surely.
    Vauxhall VXR220
    Price/availability: £29,995. On sale now, but they're probably all gone.
    Engine/transmission: 1,998cc four-cylinder petrol with DOHC, 16 valves and turbocharger. 220bhp at 6,300rpm, 214lb ft of torque at 4,700rpm. Five-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels.
    Performance: top speed 153mph, 0-60mph 4·2sec, EU urban fuel consumption 23·7mpg, CO2 emissions 202g/km.
    We like: Sheer speed. The turbo charge. All-round on-track excitement.
    We don't like: Noise level. The fact you can't actually buy one.
    Alternatives: Audi TT from £24,805. Porsche Boxster from £31,630. MG TF from £15,750. Toyota MR2 from £17,000, Lotus Elise 111R from £27,995.

  5. #5
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    14th December 2005

    Default VXR220, 2.0iT, Pictures – Interior

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    Default VXR220, 2.0iT, Pictures – Static

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    Default VXR220, 2.0iT, Pictures – Action

  8. #8
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    21st December 2005

    Default VXR220, 2.0iT, Specification

    Technical Specification

    Layout 16 valve, four cylinder
    Construction Alloy block and cylinder heads, chain driven double overhead camshafts with twin contra rotating balancer shafts. Hydraulic tappets, electric cooling fan. Maintenance-free poly-vee belt and ancillary drive
    Fuel system Sequential, multi-point fuel injection with dual spray injectors, electronic mapped direct injection system with twin spark coils with knock control
    Engine capacity 1998 cc
    Bore 86 mm
    Stroke 86 mm
    Power (hp) 220 @ 6300rpm
    Torque (lb ft) 214 @ 4700rpm
    Combined mpg 33.2
    CO2 202
    0-60 mph 4.2 seconds, Top speed 153 mph
    Front suspension Independent unequal length double wishbones, anti roll bar
    Rear suspension Independent unequal length double wishbones, multi link lower wishbone
    Springs and dampers Coil springs over monotube Bilstein dampers
    Steering rack Manual rack and pinion system
    Transmission Getrag five speed manual transmission
    Final drive ratio 3.63:1
    Front: 288 mm
    Rear: 288 mm
    Ventilated, cross-drilled discs all round with AP calliper and ABS.
    Wheel size 7 in x 16 in – front, 8 in x 17 in – rear
    Tyre size 195/50R16 – front, 225/35R17 – rear
    Tyre make Yokohama A048R
    Overall length 3790 mm, 149.2 in
    Overall width 1884 mm, 74.2 in
    Overall height 1112 mm, 43.8 in
    Overall weight 930 kg
    Front track 1450 mm
    Rear track 1494 mm
    Wheelbase 2330 mm, 91.7 in
    Turning circle 11.25 metres
    Loadspace 200 litres
    Fuel tank capacity 36 litres
    Service interval 10,000 miles
    Warranty One year unlimited mileage warranty with second and third year no-fee warranty to 60,000 miles
    Vauxhall Assistance 12 months from first registration

  9. #9
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    21st December 2005

    Default VXR220, 2.0iT, Power Curve

    Comparison between 2.0 Turbo engine fitted to VX220 Turbo and that fitted to VXR220.
    To convert PS to bhp, multiply by 0.98632

  10. #10
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    21st December 2005

    Default VXR220, 2.0iT, Press Releases

    • Zero to 60 mph time of 4.2 seconds
    • Stylish matt black detailing
    • Massive grin factor
    The VX220 has been setting pulses racing since it was launched back in 2000, it’s fast, stylish and tremendous fun… and now there’s a new addition to the line-up.
    Released under the banner of Vauxhall’s new performance brand, VXR, the latest VX is faster, and even more grin-inducing than the standard version, in fact, the VXR220 is set to be one of the best drives on the road.
    Based on the VX220 everyone already knows and loves, VXR220 features the 2.0 litre turbo engine with a power upgrade to 220 bhp, thanks to a free-flow air filter, a hybrid turbo and a reprogrammed ECU.
    Translating this wickedly entertaining power on to the tarmac is a set of five-spoke Speedline alloys, finished in satin black and shod with Yokohama A048R tyres. Featuring a dynamic mix of 195/50R16s at the front and 225/35R17s at the back, the VXR220 sticks to the road perfectly, making the most of its nimble agility.
    This all works together to ensure the most engaging driving VX yet. Performance figures back this up with a spectacular sprint time to 60 mph from standstill in just 4.2 seconds and a top speed in excess of 150 mph.
    But VXR isn’t just about going fast, it’s about enjoying the ride… which is why the VXR220 has 10 per cent more torsional rigidity than a standard VX220T, has uprated and lowered springs and uprated dampers (which are 30 per cent stiffer than standard). Plus, available as an option for VXR220 are Ohlins dampers. And because going fast brings the importance of stopping to the front of the mind, the VXR220 is kept under control by vented and cross-drilled brakes – 288 mm all round – with uprated brake pad material.
    And VXR220 looks the part as well. With its stylish body panels and modern, clean lines, the top-of-the-range VRX220 emanates purpose and dynamism. Available in Calypso Red only with matt black detailing on the rear spoiler, wing mirrors, windscreen surround, Vauxhall V-grille and fuel filler cap, it looks simply fearsome.
    Inside, things just continue to get better with super sport seats upholstered with Alcantara and carbon fibre-effect leather trim. Meanwhile, the matt black theme continues from the outside in with matt black handbrake sleeve, gearlever gate, passenger footrest, pedals and window winders.
    With looks this good and performance this impressive, customers could well begin thinking that they’ll be needing to break open their piggy banks to buy one but with a cost of just £29,995, VXR220 is a whole lot more accessible than anyone could have imagined.
    On sale now there’s simply no excuse not to buy one. It’ll be worth it for the grin-per-mile factor alone.

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