The Vauxhall VX220 was built by Lotus on the Elise’s chassis and as a result, its only real competitor is the Lotus Elise, it easily out-performs the Mazda MX-5 and the Toyota MR2. The handling is simply sublime, the steering is perfectly balanced and full of feeling whilst the low centre of gravity and sporty suspension enable you to corner practically faultlessly, even at high speeds. There are only two engines, but that is by no means a negative as both are economical and immensely fast. The turbo-charged engine reaches 60mph in just 4.7 seconds.
The Vauxhall VX220 is a good looking sports car that shares its looks with the Lotus Elise. They both share the same chassis and the Vauxhall was built by Lotus, too. The interior is very comfortable and cosy, the chairs are supportive and there is plenty of room, even for taller drivers. There is a boot, but it’s on the small side being situated behind the engine although it should be able to accommodate luggage for an active weekend away. There is also additional storage in the cabin with a small storage nest behind the seats. The only downside to the sporty Vauxhall is that getting in and out takes some practice if you want to do it gracefully.
The Vauxhall VX220 was first released with just a 144bhp 2.2-litre engine. This was joined a few years later by a very impressive 2.0-litre turbo-charged unit producing 197bhp.
Both engines are exceedingly quick: the original 2.2-litre engine goes from a standing start to 60mph in just 5.6 seconds. It is also fairly economical for such a quick car, achieving 33mpg. The 2.0-litre turbo is the engine to go for if your budget can stretch to it. The turbo engine achieves the same 33mpg like the larger unit but it is just under a second quicker, throwing you from a zero to 60mph in just 4.7 seconds.
As it’s built by Lotus, you can safely bet that handling is going to be superb and you wouldn’t be wrong. The Vauxhall VX220’s handling is phenomenal - the steering is sharp and perfectly weighted with plenty of feel being transferred to the driver. The car corners superbly, too, with no body roll to speak of. It is mainly thanks to its low centre of gravity, and when you put your foot down, the power is instantaneous. The car’s lightweight construction ensures there is no turbo lag. The gear changes all feel solid and precise. This is definitely a driver’s car and all of the controls are conveniently within reach. What’s even better is the fact that the ride is perfectly comfortable and supple, whilst still being able to maintain its sporty feel.
The Vauxhall VX220 isn’t problem-free but there aren’t too many faults to look out for. The main thing to check is any damage or excessive brake pad changes that could indicate a track-day history. Checking the tyres to make sure they’re wearing evenly should point out any crashes. Due to its low ground clearance, the car can be easily kerbed. Also make sure that the tyres have plenty of tread as they are costly to replace – the Vauxhall has its own specific sport tyres. Other things to look out for are damp patches in the cabin as the roof is prone to leaking. Make sure that the seats aren’t rocking because of loose mountings and that the automatic cooling fan comes on after a while.
As for servicing costs it is as cheap as a Corsa and it only needs to be checked every 10,000 miles, however, you may need to find a garage that has a VX220 trained mechanic.
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