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Driven: Vauxhall Monaro – on sale now



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The Vauxhall Monaro comes across a bit like an Olympic weightlifter. It may lack grace and finesse, but you just can’t help admiring it.

After years spent reading longingly about brutal V8-powered vehicles built by Holden, General Motors’ Australian subsidiary, UK performance car fanatics can finally get their hands on one, following Vauxhall’s decision earlier this year to import the red-blooded Monaro.

The Australian icon sits low and wide on 18in alloy wheels, with its aerodynamic side profile reminiscent of the old Calibra. That’s as far as the similarities go, however, as this coupe is for performance car purists, not budding boy racers. At its heart is a 328bhp 5.7-litre V8 that, although pretty lazy until given enough revs, pumps enough power through the rear wheels to get the average driver into serious trouble.

Thankfully, a switchable traction control system, ABS and limited slip differential are on standby for such an occasion, and driver, passenger and side airbags are fitted as standard.

Space is plentiful. The Monaro will happily cope with four adults and their luggage.

If travelling any great distance, however, it would probably be cheaper to fly, because that massive engine guzzles fuel. But then, who expects 40mpg from a V8 that also powers the Corvette?

For the few customers who might be unimpressed with the standard Monaro, Vauxhall is selling a limited edition run of more powerful VXR versions. Costing £35,595, these boast a remapped engine control unit giving 50bhp more power and the brakes have been uprated.

There are19in alloys, and a more aggressive bodystyling package. Interior changes include leather and Alcantara sports seats and an additional instrument binnacle housing oil and voltage gauges.

About 70 selected Vauxhall dealerships are being provided with the Monaro, and there are just 250 standard and 50 VXR versions being sold this year.

It’s a car that will have great appeal to value-conscious driving enthusiasts.

Strengths: V8 rumble, price, looks
Weaknesses: Huge thirst, slow steering. Purists will prefer it as a Holden
Opportunity: Attracting driving enthusiasts to Vauxhall
Threat: Fuel prices
The USP: So much muscle for the money
Price: Monaro £28,650; VXR Monaro £35,595
Engine: 5,667cc V8 328/387bhp
Transmission: 6spd manual, rwd
Performance: 0-60mph 5.5secs, 160mph top speed; VXR 0-60mph 5.4s, 170mph top speed
Efficiency: 19.6/18.5mpg comb, 341/360g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): 43%/40%
Service: Intervals10,000 miles
Rivals: BMW M3, Crossfire, Nissan 350Z

Driven: Vauxhall Astra GTC 2.0 CDTi SRi

Two door handles and a roof aerial are the only bodywork items the GTC has in common with other Vauxhall Astras.

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