Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Originally the VXR8 was powered by a 6.0-litre V8 with a hefty 417bhp and huge reserves of pulling power as you'd expect. It sounds great - rumbling away at even sedate speeds - and certainly adds to the enjoyment factor. It's thunderously quick too and can sprint from 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds with impressive acceleration across the rev range. A manual six-speed gearbox comes as standard, but it doesn't provide the most precise of shifts and the change between distances is quite long.

However, an automatic (also with six ratios) is available as an optional extra. In mid 2008, the engine was upgraded to a 6.2-litre V8 which offers even better in-gear performance. Thanks to various improvements it delivers 431bhp, although 0-60mph acceleration in the manual is unchanged, however the automatic version is fractionally faster. Despite the increase in engine size, economy stays the same - a poor 19mpg in the manual car.

The special edition Bathurst S model - launched in 2009 - uses a supercharger which boosts power to an incredible 572bhp and increases pulling power too. This brings the 0-60mph time down to a mere 4.6 seconds plus it has uprated brakes to cope with the extra power.

The VXR8 is more than just a big saloon with a powerful engine. It handles surprisingly well too, responding quickly to steering inputs, while feeling stable enough to push hard into a corner. In the dry, it has impressive grip. The big rear tyres and limited slip differential seem capable of transmitting all that power to the road and the traction control rarely has to intervene.

The suspension has been specially tweaked to suit British road conditions and feels controlled and responsive, but also copes with bumps and ridges that might otherwise trouble ride comfort or tyre grip. Big brake callipers with huge, grooved discs, look the part behind the alloy wheels and apparently stop the VXR8 quicker than a Lamborghini Gallardo.