The moniker “VXR” (VX Racing) is the branding for the high-performance trim specification used in many of Vauxhall's range of cars. The VXR220 was based on the VX220, a two-seat sports car developed through a joint venture with Lotus with production starting at the Hethel Lotus factory in 2001. VX220 was launched at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show and was based on the Lotus Elise, having a similar aluminium chassis and composite body. Like the Elise, the Vauxhall was a stripped-out, no-frills sports car designed to put driver enjoyment to the fore.
The VXR220 was basically a VX220 but with a power upgrade. Fitted in the mid position, behind the driver but in front of the rear axle line, the new unit boasted another 20 bhp on top of the old car's 200 bhp thanks to a free-flow air filter, a hybrid turbocharger and a reprogrammed ECU. To cope with the extra power and heat generated, the car needed more cooling capacity, changes to the exhaust and heat shield, and various chassis changes.
The car won many accolades as a performance car and at 4.2 seconds to 60 mph remains one of the fastest accelerating Vauxhalls. It offered one or two more comforts such as a CD player and satellite navigation, in comparison to the Elise.