Vauxhall’s three-door sports-hatch Astra range has just got a lot hotter. The stylish ranks of the Astra GTC line-up, first introduced in 2011, have been swelled by the addition of a new halo VXR model that has injected extra pizzazz from summer 2012. This is the gold medal athlete of the Astra family, a turbo hot hatch with strong street presence and sports car pace.
The Astra VXR is as quick as it is eye-catching, with its coupe-esque styling, strong body colours and black wheels. Everything about it tells you it means business. It is virtually as quick off the mark as a Porsche Boxster, but with twice the number of seats and rather better carrying capacity.
With a powerful turbocharged two-litre engine, lowered suspension and a limited-slip differential, the Astra VXR is equipped to be a seriously quick car for the road. Until this one arrived on the scene, the diesel-engined Astra GTC BiTurbo 2.0 CDTi was Vauxhall’s top hot hatch. Now the petrol Astra VXR trumps it as the ultimate thriller.
The car has basically the same bodyshell as other Astra GTCs, with their curvy hatch shape, but with some distinctive additions. There is a prominent front spoiler, the front grille is colour-coded, LED tail-lights are added, and the wheel size is bigger. The wheel design is more eye-catching too, notable for the black colouring and unique VXR style.
The Astra VXR comes in just one version, priced a fiver below £27,000. There is also an optional appearance pack for an extra £995 to give the car an even beefier look, with the standard 19-inch alloy wheels increased to 20-inch ones, side body skirts, and a twin rear wing.Performance
Before this car arrived on the scene, the quickest Vauxhall Astra was the GTC BiTurbo 2.0 CDTi with a top speed of 139 mph and a 0-62 acceleration time of 7.8 seconds. Now look at these figures for the Astra VXR: 154 mph and 5.9 seconds. The CO2 emissions figure is 189 g/km.
The engine is a two-litre turbocharged, direct-injection unit from Vauxhall’s Insignia engine family, with a similar aluminium block, but a unique aluminium cylinder head. The car has high-performance Brembo brakes and special dampers. This is a road car that has been race-honed. All the high-speed test work on the Astra VXR, while it was under development, was carried out at the notorious Nurburgring Nordschleife race track in Germany.
It is a seriously quick car, propelled by an engine that develops a socking 276 bhp power output, with 295 lb/ft of torque. It is also a very rewarding car to drive, with considerable performance but without any obvious vices.
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