Like some of the other reviewers on this site, I test drove the Focus ST, Golf GTI, Golf R32, Octavia vRS, Impreza STI, BMW M3 and a used (three year old) 911 C2 before choosing the VXR. I chose it because it is simply the most rewarding and exciting car to drive out of the bunch. Yes it can be a wee bit unruly when you are pressing on, but the torque steer is really very minor, and hardly noticeable when you are concentrating. Unlike some media types, I tend to be gripping the steering wheel when driving hard, so perhaps this is why my car does not pull to the left?
It compares well with the Focus ST, which is a bit sedate and middle aged for me (but still a good car) whilst the Golf R32 is nose heavy and feels like a diesel to drive, and the Golf GTI is really, really slow, and feels like an ordinary family hatchback. The Impreza STI was a great drive, but I could not live with the image, whilst the Octavia vRS handles like a big slow barge.
The two more expensive cars, the BMW M3 and the used 911, were both very comfortable, fairly quick and good fun. The BMW is really nice inside and seems well built, but I was really surprised at the lack of pace; it was nothing like as quick as the performance figures would have you believe. The 911 is fairly quick, but pretty expensive (even a used one), and the tiny rear seats ruled it out for me, no matter how much I tried to kid myself on that I could live with it.
I have now had the VXR for over a year, and still think I made a reasoned choice. It is very easy to drive around town (in non sport mode), has surprising interior space for four people, and it really moves when out on quieter roads in the countryside.
Another reviewer stated that his VXR could be forced to under steer, and it is true that most powerful front wheel drive cars can be pushed into this, but it is not a problem I have had. It handles pretty well, corners in a flat and rapid manner, and only seems to get out of shape when the road is a bit too wet, or there are plenty of road repair marks for the wheels to tram line over.
It cannot be overstated just how blisteringly quick this car is when you thrash it; you really have to try one to see if you like the sensation (the noise from the standard exhaust and turbo charger is superb inside the car, but can become a bit wearing on sensitive ears). This is not a car for drivers who are not really very good at driving; the BMW or Golf is probably your best bet. The experience is brutal (but very enjoyable), however, if I had to drive every day (and I usually stick to two wheels so I do not have to), I could see how it could begin to lose its appeal.
The interior quality of the car is average, but the car is a good looking beast from the outside; it really is all about the driving experience (not the "ownership" experience) with this car.
Vauxhall dealers seem to get a bad review in the press and on forums, and in my experience they really deserve it. Once you have paid your cash, you become a nuisance who will be fobbed off if at all possible, or kept waiting for days for simple tasks to be carried out. Bear this in mind if you fancy trying a VXR, as this can detract from your enjoyment of the car.
The running costs are not too bad. I am old enough that insurance is not a real problem for me (£331 FC), and the mileage attainable is surprising for such a powerful machine; around 18 mpg when "making progress" to around 38 mpg on a long journey.
I hope this review will give you some ideas as to why some people like the VXR so much, but, if you can, you should do what I did and take long tests in all of the contenders to see what works for you.