Production of the Holden Commodore model, on which the GTS-R is based, comes to an end in Australia this October, when Holden's manufacturing plant finally closes. Vauxhall - a sister brand to Holden in the GM family - has been importing the VXR8 in various forms since 2007, and sells the car through selected dealerships in its network with full service back up and a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
As befits its last-of-line status, the GTS-R-R is no ordinary VXR8 - and in this form it's exclusive to the UK, too. Sending drive via a limited slip differential to the rear wheels, the GTS-R retains the previous GTS's clever torque vectoring system, but adds an upgraded braking system with six-piston, monoblock calipers and 410mm discs up front. In addition, the GTS-R wears all-new 20-inch forged alloy rims (ten-inch width at the rear, 9-inch at the front).
Visually, the GTS-R has a fresh face, with a new front fascia, splitter, wings and carbon fibre vents, while at the rear there's a new-look diffuser, spoiler (with carbon fibre upper), lower panel and quad exhaust outlets with diamond-shaped exhaust tips. Inside, the diamond theme continues in the Alcantara and leather seat trim.
The current supercharged LSA engine has been re-mapped and is fitted with a high-flow air filter to achieve its hike in power.
Just 15 Vauxhall VXR8 GTS-R's will come to the UK, at an on-the-road price of £74,500.
At the heart of the VXR8 GTS-R is a supercharged LSA V8 (identical to that used in the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1), delivering 595PS. Performance figures back this up, with 60mph arriving in just 4.2 seconds from standstill and a limited top speed of 155mph.
The new GTS-R's Eaton supercharger has 4-lobe rotors, 9psi boost and 1.9 litres of air per revolution. Unlike a turbocharged car, the Eaton supercharger provides the GTS-R with stronger and more linear performance across its entire rev-range.
Delivering drive to the rear axle is a heavy-duty GM/2F 6-speed automatic transmission with Active Select Function and paddle shift. To optimise its performance at higher operating temperatures, the transmission has its own oil cooler.
A 6-speed manual transmission is also available.
The front-end design of the VXR8 GTS-R has bold graphics and shallow ramp angles that emphasise width and stance. The focal point of the new look is a 'twin-nostril' grille and an all-new fascia that helps to deliver both an aggressive look and an air intake surface large enough to cool the LSA V8.
In fact, a total of 130,000 square millimetres of open frontal surface was needed to deliver the cooling required for the new engine - 75 per cent more than the previous LS3-engined car.
At the rear, the VXR8 GTS-R has distinctive LED tail lamps, while the 'diffuser' rear fascia houses quad exhaust outlets finished in shadow chrome. A unique body-coloured performance rear spoiler with black accents helps set the GTS-R apart still further.
Inside, the VXR8's cabin design has undergone a raft of design changes. An upgraded instrument panel with suede-style inserts, a new instrument cluster, gauges, centre console, appliques and door trims combine to deliver a more premium look and feel.
Standard in the VXR8 GTS-R, VXR Performance Seats are wrapped in Alcantara leather trim and feature 8-way electric adjustment and seat heaters for both the driver and front passenger.
To cater for the extra performance offered by the LSA engine, the VXR8 GTS-R is fitted Brake Torque Vectoring technology. Brake Torque Vectoring helps reduce understeer by generating a 'rotational moment' in the rear axle while the car is under power. The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system detects the understeer, applies braking to the inside rear wheel and transfers torque to the outside rear wheel, preventing the front end from washing wide.
The VXR8 GTS-R also receives third-generation Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) with three independent settings: Touring, Sport, performance and Track. Hardware and software improvements combine to deliver greater body control, sharper handling and a significantly more pliant ride quality, compared with the previous model.
Wider tyres also offer drivers more grip. Continental 255/35 R20 (front) and 275/35 R20 (rear) were chosen as standard equipment, due to their exceptional performance in both wet and dry conditions.
To assist drivers in manipulating the various electronic vehicle performance systems, a new Driver Preference Dial has been developed. Located behind the gear lever, the Driver Preference Dial adjusts settings to one of four modes: Touring, Sport, Performance and Track. The vehicle's ESC, Traction Control, Launch Control (manual transmission only), and Bi-Modal Exhaust, as well as its Brake Torque Vectoring and new Electronic Power Steering, are then adjusted accordingly.
The VXR8 has now come of age, and features an array of technologies never seen before in this model.
In addition to the Side Blind Zone Alert with Reverse Traffic Alert, Automatic Park Assist, Front and Rear Park Assist, Reversing Camera and Passive Entry/Push Button Start, the GTS-R also picks up a number of additional driver convenience and safety technologies.
Head Up Display is standard and shows a raft of driver information on the windscreen, such as vehicle speed, engine temperature, and even G-forces!
Forward Collision Alert is another technology fitted standard to the GTS-R, and is the first system of its kind to be available in a Vauxhall product. A camera, located above the rear-view mirror scans the road ahead up to 14 times per second. When a crash is predicted, the driver is alerted with an audible tone and a visible alert on the car's HUD. Anticipating hard braking, the system applies sufficient brake pressure to close the space between the brake pads and discs, thus delivering a quicker brake response time.
Using the same camera technology, the VXR8 GTS-R also has Lane Departure Warning. Designed to combat driver fatigue, a warning indicator and audible sound alerts the driver to any unintentional lane departures.