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The Vauxhall VX220 (sold as the Opel Speedster in mainland Europe) is a Britishmarker-built mid engined, targa-topped, 2-seater sports car introduced in the summer of 2000.

It was built for GM Europe in both right-hand drive and left-hand drive versions at the Lotus Cars plant in Hethel, Norfolk, Englandmarker. The left-hand drive version was badged the Opel Speedster for mainland Europe distribution, the right-hand drive version the Vauxhall VX220 for UK distribution.

The car has a lot in common with the Lotus Elise, yet GM Europe claims few parts are interchangeable. Both cars are characterized by strong performance and superb handling.

Joint Lotus development

The already developed Lotus Elise Series1 was unable to be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European regulations around crash sustainability, and so Lotus needed a development partner to meet the investment requirement. GM Europe needed a headline car to revamp what were considered boring and non-aspirational brands in Opel and Vauxhall.

The Lotus Elise S2/Vauxhall VX220 design was based on the Elise chassis, modified to accept a GM engine in preference to the Rover K-series engine used by the Elise.

Design

Produced by Lotus at their Hethel, Norfolkmarker factory, the VX220 carried the Lotus internal model identification Lotus 116 and the code name Skipton for the 2.2N/A version and Tornado for the 2.0 L Turbo.

The chassis utilizes an aluminium chassis tub that weighs only . The car also features bodywork which is made entirely of GRP. The entire car weighs in at only , much lighter than most small sports cars.

The normally aspirated version used a Vauxhall Astra all aluminium alloy 2.2 L Z22SE engine giving in a car weighing — originally designed for GM by Lotus, it arguably gives the VX220 more mechanical Lotus content than the Elise. The Turbo model, introduced in 2003, used a GM designed cast iron block 2.0 L Z20LET engine, producing but weighing .

The Elise S2 was designed by Lotus to have 16" front wheels and 17" rear wheels. GM decided to fit 17" wheels front and rear to the VX220 for aesthetic reasons, which reduced the handling performance of the car.

A removable hard-top can be fitted as a factory or aftermarket option, arguably providing better looks and aerodynamics.

Production

With its low weight, mid-mounted engine, high torsional rigidity, and ample horsepower, the car is extremely quick and agile. Thanks in part to the car's light weight, the turbo version was able to reach a top speed of 242 km/h (151 mph) and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 4.9 seconds. The base price was around €32,000 for the 2.2 and €36,000 for the turbocharged version.

The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers' car and won several accolades, with the 2.2 NA (naturally aspirated) version being considered the easier drive of the two standard variants. Some journalists recommended that the Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus (such as Jeremy Clarkson in his 2003 DVD Shoot Out).

The Vauxhall VX220 formed the cover for the Dreamcast game, Metropolis Street Racer and featured heavily in the games promotional material.

Speedsters were displayed with the Daewoo badge, although only one was built to be used for marketing purposes. A final version, the track-oriented VXR220, based on the turbo model, was tuned to give around 220 hp (164 kW) and used 16 in (406 mm) front wheels that allowed the fitting of smaller front tyres to give sharper handling.

Production ended in 2005, with no direct successor. It was not until GM Europe adapted the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky into the Opel GT in 2007 that GM Europe had a replacement sector product, with no right-hand drive Vauxhall version for the UK.

Gallery

Image:Speedster Turbo 1.JPG|Opel Speedster TurboFile:Speedster Turbo 2.JPG|Opel Speedster TurboImage:VauxhallVX220.jpg|Vauxhall VX200Image:Vauxhall_VX220_Turbo.JPG|Vauxhall VX220 Turbo

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