For good or ill, at the turn of the millennium, car maker Vauxhall had a pretty staid, boring image, so it came as a surprise when they decided to launch a small, two-seater sports car based on the Lotus Elise. What was even more surprising is that they did it so well, improving in almost all ways what was already a potent sports car. The 2000 Vauxhall VX220 was everything a sports car should be: very fast, very agile and with a spectacular look. It initially shared many parts with the Elise, something that changed as the model years went by, and the car continued to improve.
The VX220 was fitted with a 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produced 200 horsepower, over 40 more than the most powerful Elise on the market. With that kind of power available, the VX220 could reach 60 miles per hour in a blistering, world-beating 4.7 seconds, all the way to an impressive top speed of 151 miles per hour. With its power and superior handling, the VX220 was most at home on twisting, winding roads.
It just goes to say that you should never underestimate people’s passion; in this case, the Vauxhall designers and engineers that took what was already a class-leading sports car – the Lotus Elise – and turned it into something much, much better. Ironically, the Vauxhall VX220 suffered from poor marketing, and from a public that couldn’t quite believe that such a great car came at such a great price, from Vauxhall of all places.