Vauxhall VXR 220
Cash strapped Lotus (aren’t they always?) had a problem, the existing Elise (S1) couldn’t be produced beyond the year 2000 due to tighter crash regulations and they needed to find more money to invest in the development of the S2 Elise. After they’d checked down the back of every sofa in Norfolk, in stepped Vauhall. Lotus have fettled Vauxhall cars few times before to good effect, most notably giving birth to the mentalist Lotus Carlton, but this wasnt to be a few suspension tweaks to an existing Griffin badged motor, the new car was to be a complete re-engineering of the Elise.
Codenamed “Skipton” (really?) for the Normally aspirated 2.2 litre Astra based engined version and “Tornado” (thats better) for the 2.0 litre turbocharged car, the VX 220 was built by Lotus alongside the Elise and shared the basic extruded and bonded aluminium chassis structure. However, although it’s clearly based on the Elise platform most of the components are specific to the Vauxhall car.
The basic car, the VX220 was launched in 2000. Lotus improved it’s production procedures to satisfy GM quality control and the VX220 could be described as a more plush, premium Elise variant. With it’s 2.2 Litre engine it put out more power than the standard Elise but with more weight performance was about the same. The VX220 was intended to show Vauxhall wasn’t just a producer of boring rep cars, but could cater for the more sporty end of the spectrum. Vauxhall wanted the car to be able to be enjoyed by even the most ham-footed driver without some of the oversteer tendancies the original Elise could display on the limit. Lotus engineered the suspension and employ narrower front tyres to combat oversteer and make the chassis generally more driver freindly.
In 2003 Vauxhall launched the VX220 Turbo with 197bhp from the 2 litre turbocharged engine. The VX220 Turbo could reach 0-60 in 4.7 seconds and was cheaper than Lotus’ 111R. Reviews at the time commented on the VX220 Turbos impressive speed and composure compared with the slightly more raw and edgy 111R.
The VXR220 is a limited run of 60 track focused cars aimed squarely at the track day enthusiast. Stiffer suspension, stickier tyres, sports seats and an extra 20bhp make the VXR the quickest Vauxhall ever. There aren’t that many cars that could hold onto a well driven VXR220 around a track, and with used prices at around the £15-16k mark at the moment, it’s difficult to go faster for less!
While you can pick up a good VX220 Turbo for around the £13k mark, our choice would be to seek out the VXR, it’s only a couple of grand more (at the moment!), more of a drivers car, faster and with only 60 ever made, much more exclusive.
Evo VXR220 review
Autocar VX220 Turbo review
Pistonheads VX220 Turbo review
Auto Express VX220 Turbo Long term test 1
Auto Express VX220 Turbo Long term test 2
Auto Express VX220 Turbo Long term test 3
Car Enthusiast VX220 Turbo review
VX220.org owner review