Astra Flagship Is New Edition To Vauxhall GSi Family - Power, Efficiency, Refinement | Part Two

2.0 Turbo ECOTEC: Power, Efficiency, Refinement

Vauxhall’s 2.0 litre ECOTEC turbo, also installed in the Zafira GSi, Astra Coupe and Convertible, guarantees rapid on the road performance.

Two-hundred horsepower and Astra’s accomplished chassis means the three-door GSi sprints from 0 to 60mph in seven seconds; just 9.5 seconds is needed for the mid-range sprint from 50mph to 70mph. Maximum speed is 150mph.

Many will be familiar with the turbo engine’s impressive torque curve and immediate throttle response, which produces sustained momentum across the speed range. Maximum torque of 250 Nm is available at a constant boost pressure of 0.85 bar between 1950 and 5600 rpm. Peak power of 200 hp is reached at 5600 rpm.

At full throttle, the engine’s electronic management system provides additional reserves by allowing a maximum rpm of 6800 instead of 6400 for a short period. Clever packaging of the turbo system is the basis for its turbine-like performance; exhaust manifold, turbine housing, waste gate and other elements are integrated as a single, compact component, allowing Vauxhall engineers to significantly reduce engine size and weight.

A precise five-gear manual transmission transfers engine power to the front wheels.

This state of the art Euro 4 compliant turbo engine proves that performance needn’t result in high fuel consumption - on the combined cycle, the Astra GSi manages 31.7mpg.

Bodywork And Aerodynamics

Astra GSi’s expressive exterior design is not meant to simply look good. Functional styling was key from the start – something which can be seen in details like the rear spoiler, which exerts increased downforce on the rear axle for additional stability at high speeds.

In addition to the special 17-inch alloy wheels, other distinctive features include a GSi grille and front and rear lower skirts. Viewed from the front, the enlarged air intakes, black engine grille and air cooler are the main focus. Ducts located next to the round fog lights, integrated into the bumper, channel cool air to the high performance brake system.

The angular lower rear panel creates a distinctive look while accentuating the GSi’s alloy wheels and chromed exhaust pipe. Side sills, body-coloured side moulding and door handles, ‘carbon-look’ B-pillars and dark tinted rear lights finish off the purposeful look of the new Astra.

DSA Sport Chassis

The basic Astra, of course, provided an excellent foundation upon which the engineers were able to apply their vast motor sport experience. As a result, Vauxhall’s chassis engineers have managed to strike the balance between agility, active safety and a standard of comfort suited to everyday and long distance driving.

Proven components of the DSA (Dynamic Safety) chassis have been modified to meet the GSi philosophy – a chassis lowered by 20 mm in the front, stiffer springs and a combination of switchable Electronic Stability Program (ESP), traction control (TCPlus) and ABS all contribute to help meet the needs of more demanding drivers.

At 215/40 ZR17, the GSi wears fatter tyres than its sporting SRi brother, fitted to light alloy wheels measuring 7.5 J x 17. Large discs – 308mm ventilated front / 264 mm rear – ensure powerful deceleration.

Much of the testing for the new chassis was carried out on the demanding Nurburgring in Germany. "We have meticulously fine-tuned the chassis," says Volker Strycek. "The new Astra GSi is very agile, a quality which makes cornering great fun. But despite the sporty set-up, the ride chosen for the Astra makes travelling over a long distance a pleasant experience."

Published 13 November 2002 Melanie Carter

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