Is This a Preview of the 2009 Pontiac GXP? Australia, England or America: Some things have the same appeal. By Jonny Smith, Contributor Date posted: 04-08-2008 600-hp supercharged V8 - 6-speed manual transmission - Progressive-rate springs - Wortec 20-inch wheels If (or maybe that should be when) a 530-horsepower Vauxhall VXR8 isn't enough for you, then you'll want to be talking to Wortec, the British experts in high-performance General Motors-built V8 engines. And that's where the If (or maybe that should be when) a 530-horsepower Vauxhall VXR8 isn't enough for you, then you'll want to be talking to Wortec, the British experts in high-performance General Motors-built V8 engines. And that's where the 600-hp Vauxhall VXR8 Carbon Edition by Wortec comes in. While Honda and Toyota have been focusing on hybrids, Vauxhall went to Australia and pilfered a version of the hot Holden Commodore SS, the same car that's become the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT. Well, Wortec has built up a special version of the Vauxhall VXR8 in the same way that it once prepared its own version of the Holden Monaro VXR500. If you're in the United Kingdom, the 2008 Vauxhall VXR8 Carbon Edition by Wortec is the hottest VXR8 you can buy, and maybe it gives us a clue about what might be done with the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP. Another Blown Version? What's the Difference? Wortec modifies the Vauxhall VXR8 for the United Kingdom, and the result is a 600-hp American muscle car. Put simply, the 2008 Vauxhall VXR8 Carbon Edition by Wortec offers more power and more refinement. Sure, Vauxhall already currently sells a supercharged version of the VXR8 (produced through Walkinshaw Racing), but Wortec feels the four-door muscle car hasn't been given the justice it deserves. If Walkinshaw Racing is Vauxhall's own version of AMG, then Wortec is like Brabus, taking things up a notch with a slick feel to back up the sledgehammer performance. While the Walkinshaw version uses a positive-displacement, Roots-type Eaton 112 supercharger with a 1.2-liter capacity, Wortec's Carbon Edition breathes via a 2.2-liter Eaton 122. Wortec claims this blower moves air more efficiently and creates less power-robbing heat. Says Wortec's Brian Richards, "We see our install as an upgradeable install for the car nut, whereas the Walkinshaw supercharger is a somewhat tamer, non-upgradeable solution." Sadly, you won't be finding any carbon fiber in the Carbon Edition, because the designation actually comes from the metallic black color, which is Vauxhall's most popular paint finish with VXR8 buyers. Of course, there's some compensation in the menacing undertaker-spec 20-inch wheels with their black powder-coated finish, a crackling exhaust note and minimal badge identification. The Sound of Supercharging New suspension springs with lower ride height help make the VXR8 nimble enough for English country lanes. It seems like a gimmick, but the exhaust system features an electronic device that allows two volume settings, just like some 1940s hot rod with exhaust cutouts. A discreet Bond-style black button next to the handbrake activates a valve inside the exhaust, which in turn selects from two volume settings, although there's not any noticeable increase in sound in the cockpit. The stainless-steel exhaust system features a mix of 3.0-inch and 2.5-inch tubing, and a special "merge section" joins the two sides of the exhaust together for a short distance. This design boosts low-end torque by increasing the flow and improving scavenging effect. The volume is changed within the twin mufflers, where there are two paths through the box. One path is quiet and the other permits more than 100 dBA. Wortec has been developing this system for some time and it shows that you can have an outrageous grunt coming from the tailpipe without transmitting a tiresome drone inside the car. The Proof of Performance Wortec is working on adjustable dampers to match the new spring package. So what are the vital stats? Well, the stock, normally aspirated Holden Commodore SS puffs 411 hp and 405 pound-feet of torque, then hits 60 mph in 4.9 seconds with a computer-strangled top end of 155 mph. The Walkinshaw-built supercharged version gets you 533 hp and a whopping 568 lb-ft of torque. Walkinshaw fits the Eaton 122 supercharger, new fuel injectors, spark plugs and a bigger intercooler to shovel more chilled air into the hungry 6.0-liter GM V8. And then it brainwashes the ECU to stop it from going loopy every time you stab the loud pedal. Enter the big, black Wortec-built Carbon Edition with as much as 620 hp (though only 600 hp is claimed) and 600 lb-ft of torque. It'll do 190 mph once you help the ECU get its mind right. And it costs less than the Walkinshaw version. Rolling Thunder It might say Vauxhall, but it makes us think of the 2009 Pontiac GXP. The hair on the back of your neck stands right up once you twist the ignition key. This thing is pure rolling thunder and it has, without doubt, one of the sexiest exhaust notes of any car today. With its long-legged top gear in the six-speed manual transmission, the VXR8's V8 is barely ticking over highway speed, with 1,800 rpm in play at 70 mph. The supercharger doesn't compromise fuel-efficiency too badly, as the intake air bypasses the blower rotors at low rpm. If you dial in the throttle pedal in inches rather than millimeters, you've got to be prepared for warp drive. The torque is relentless from 1,800 rpm right up to 5,500 rpm. The Wortec VXR8 out-drags most supercars and punishes its speedometer at high speed. Wortec quotes acceleration to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and then 120 mph arrives in 12.8 seconds. This car is properly rapid. In factory form, the VXR8 has issues with its ridiculously tall ride height. Wortec lowers the car by 35mm with shorter, progressive-rate springs. The result not only improves aesthetics but also makes the fat sedan feel deceivingly nimble, even on narrow English country lanes. Things look set to be even better when Wortec finishes testing its own forthcoming suspension setup with adjustable dampers. The change to Goodyear rubber from Bridgestones has made a massive difference in this car. These tires deliver sure-footed cornering (even in the rain) yet still have lots of tread after several obligatory rolling burnouts. Wortec says the Bridgestones work fine in the Australian desert, but not so well in cold, damp English Midlands. The way we see it, it's better to have good grip right now rather than wait for the stability control to play catch-up. Four-Door Muscle Special exhaust system allows you to dial up the noise factor to 100 dBA. Wortec has done nothing but flatter this four-door muscle car. The modifications all blend together and never feel added on. The 2008 Vauxhall VXR8 Carbon Edition by Wortec delivers a kind of bang per buck ratio that even those who live in the land of $9 per gallon gasoline can understand. Try as some might to strangle our thirst for muscle cars, our love affair with power-crazed V8 engines isn't yet ready to die. Thank goodness. Everybody loves a 600-hp supercharged V8. First Impressions: Here's a supercharged 600-hp monster with a backseat.