The world’s greatest bargain among performance cars just got a little better.GM’s VXR8 (known locally as the Lumina) has gained a raft of refinements to improve its dynamic fluidity. Built in Australia by Holden’s special vehicles (HSV) division, the next-generation VXR8 is now based on the Holden GTS instead of the Club Sport version – as was always the case previously. Styling remains rather ornate, with a new-look grille (known as the ‘Shockwave’ design by Holden insiders) and LED embedded head and tail lights the notable upgrades.NEW INSTRUMENTSThe VXR8's new alloy wheel design, which has an inverse hexagon shape of sorts, is quite "out there" - even for something conceived by Australians.Inside, a new instrument cluster with grey/white contrast illumination instead of the series Lumina’s red-hued instrumentation, is augmented by a 13cm driver touchscreen interface. It enables VXR8 owners to access boy-racer data sets such as g-force, power/torque graphs and lap times from the car's computer. HSV’s eight-way adjustable bucket seats replace the standard Lumina items (comfortable for larger drivers, but hardly moulded to keep one securely in place at speed during cornering), which is just as well considering the new VXR8’S mechanical upgrades - all made to make the VXR8 pull a lot more cornering g-force.MAGNETIC SHOCKS - WHAT A DIFFERENCEAlthough the all-wheel independent suspension is retained, it is buoyed by the presence of a magnetic ride control system borrowed from the Corvette ZR1. REFINED BRUTE?: HSV’s technicians raided the GM performance parts bin and found the Corvette ZR1’s magnetic damper conrtol quite to their liking … Working on a principle similar to that of Audi’s R8 magnetic ride system, the VXR8’s shocks either harden or soften the fluid response courtesy of an electric current impulse that affects magnetic particles residing inside the damper tubing. Able to adjust the bound and rebound 1000 times a second, the system should enable it to thread the golden mean between providing plush ride quality on badly roads while still being able to enact millimetre-perfect adjustment on a smooth race track. Under severe braking, the magnetic ride system is particularly useful at preventing nose-heavy understeer, especially useful in a vehicle as large and with such a heavy V8 engine residing above its front wheels as the VXR8. Beyond the improved ride quality and handling finesse the new VXR8 also sports launch control, enabled when the ‘competition’ electronic stability system setting is selected. The HSV calibrated launch control ensures the correct level of torque is transferred to the rear wheels for perfect traction during (very) brisk acceleration runs.SIX-SPEED - MANUAL OR AUTOPowering the new VXR8 is GM’s Corvette-derived LS3 6.2-litre V8, producing 317kW and 550Nm. Rear-wheel drive in configuration, the VXR8’s traction is managed by a proper mechanical limited-slip differential with the option of either a manual or autoc six-speed transmission. HSV reckon if you find a high-friction surface the VXR8 should be good for a benchmark 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.9 seconds. Set to retail at the equivalent of R532 000 when it goes on sale in the UK in March 2011, the VXR8 is undoubtedly the best value rapid transport solution available for average family of four.Despite GMSA having brought a few units of HSV’s Club Sport for evaluation early in 2010 it would appear very unlikely that the VXR8 could find its way on to the South African market.