When Vauxhall proudly rolled out the VX220 at the Geneva Motor Show in early 2000, it was widely looked upon as a bit of an underdog. The nimble, mid-engined, two-seater sports car was based on the Lotus Elise and was actually manufactured by Lotus in their Norfolk plant, a collaboration we’d seen before with the insane Lotus Carlton back in the early nineties. A fantastic platform to build from then, but why would people choose a Vauxhall badge over a Lotus one?
Launched later that year, the VX220 was actually very well received with many commentators agreeing that it was much better value than its sister car, the Elise. It was powered by a 2.2 litre naturally aspirated inline-four, producing 147bhp and taking less than six seconds to get to 60mph, helped by its remarkably low weight of 870kg. The lightweight chassis meant it was sublime through the bends, and to top it off it looked absolutely astounding, standing out a mile when parked alongside every-day Astras and Corsas in Vauxhall dealerships across the UK.
Even with all of this going for it, the VX220 was being hugely outsold by the Elise and Vauxhall knew they couldn’t just match the Lotus, they needed to better it. Three years after the initial launch they upped the stakes by introducing the VX220 Turbo. It had a 2 litre turbocharged engine, taking it close to 200bhp and hitting 0-60 in an incredible 4.7 seconds in the process. The Turbo was reviewed on Top Gear shortly after launch, with Jeremy Clarkson loving it so much that it eventually won their award for ‘Most Fun Car of the Year’ for 2003.
[caption id="attachment_201" align="aligncenter" width="648"] Vauxhall VX220 Interior[/caption]
It’s difficult to find a definitive answer on how many were actually built in total, but the general consensus is that 8,000 to 10,000 were shifted between 2000 and 2005, with many of them sold as Opel Speedsters outside of the UK. Today there are around 1,100 remaining on the road in Britain making them a rather rare sight indeed.
In 2004 Vauxhall launched their performance brand, VXR, and the limited edition VXR220 was the first car to wear the badge. Just 65 were built, which came with styling enhancements, 220bhp and a quicker 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. It’s fair to say that it was the perfect way of introducing the high-performance brand to the UK car-buying public!
But could this British sports car one day be considered a classic?
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