If the GTC doesn’t quite do it for you, Vauxhall have another even more powerful Astra lined up.
The Astra VXR goes on sale in July, boasting all the style, power and performance you could demand from a family hatchback.
At £26,995, it sounds expensive but it undercuts all its rivals in the premium sports hatch market and the car delivers the sort of power you might expect in a very expensive sports car.
Let’s run through the figures: top speed 155mph, 0 to 60mph in 5.9 seconds and 43mpg on a run. It makes a pretty good all-rounder.
Vauxhall incorporate motorsport know-how in its transmission and deliver a class-leading 400Nm of torque. The VXR’s turbocharged 2.0 litre direct-injection engine harks from the Insignia family, but while its aluminium block is similar, the VXR has a unique aluminium cylinder head and new turbocharger to liberate more power. And with a limited slip differential delivering drive to the front wheels, Brembo brakes, and dampers developed by performance manufacturer ZF Sachs, the Astra VXR is also set to raise the bar for in-class dynamics.
Astra VXR drivers can also look forward to a soundtrack that has been carefully engineered to appeal to enthusiasts, both from inside and outside the car. A ‘jet-like’ noise in the mid to high-end rev-range is likely to be a memorable feature, especially when drivers change up from third to fourth under full throttle. I tried it on Tuesday at a driving day in Barnsley, off all places, and I can vouch for its exuberance.
In addition to the work done by ZF Sachs on dampers, Vauxhall engineers have stiffened the standard springs by around 30 per cent and lowered the car by a further ten millimetres all round, compared with a 1.6T Astra GTC.
In order to give drivers an even more connected feel with the car.
Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive damping system is also standard on all Astra VXRs. Drivers have the choice of three separate chassis settings which can be selected at the push of a button. ‘Standard’ delivers all-round performance for a wide range of road driving, with ‘Sport’ stiffening the dampers for reduced roll and tighter body control. ‘VXR’ is FlexRide’s most extreme mode. Not only does it enhance throttle responsiveness and change the instrument backlighting from white to red, but it alters the dampers settings once again.
Also unveiled at Barnsley was the Vauxhall VXR Maloo. Don’t expect to see too many of these on the road. At £51,500, this car is for a specialist market. It’s a performance pick-up manufactured by General Motors’ Australian wing, Holden. It’s a stunning 6.2 litre V8 which comes with a six-speed manual transmission. The key feature is a vast covered cargo bay.
It’s a car in its own league. Vauxhall say it’s the only performance pick-up on the road.