First drive review: Vauxhall Astra VXR
Vauxhall has created a new Astra VXR to keep itself in the hot hatch market
What is it?
Vauxhall's answer to the calls of the mid-thirties boy racer. This is the firm's second attempt to quash the efforts of the Ford Focus ST, VW Golf GTI and Renault Megane RS.
It's totally new and is based on the Astra GTC. There's some very clever kit to make the VXR travel around corners as quickly as it tackles straight pieces of road, such as a limited slip differential and Vauxhall's adaptive FlexiRide damping system.
What's under the bonnet?
An inline four-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. It's the same engine found in the previous model but it now develops 276bhp and 400Nm of torque. Top speed is 155mph; 0-60mph takes just 5.9 seconds.
What's the kit like?
Rather than fill the VXR with sat-nav, Bluetooth and a big stereo as standard, Vauxhall has fitted a limited slip differential and massive Brembo brakes. Kit such as CD/MP3, USB and sat-nav are optional extras.
Naturally the VXR goes up against its arch rival the Ford Focus ST, and the perennial VW Golf GTI. But its coupe styling does mean it's a rival for the Renaultsport Megane and the VW Scirocco R.
Is it any good?
It's a real driver's car, this. This new VXR simply grips with the more power you apply. It is a more subdued experience compared to the old VXR, but the new car feels bigger and more comfortable. The rate in which it shoots towards the horizon is beyond the reach of its rivals.
The Autoblog verdict?
The Astra VXR has taken the hot hatch game to another level. This is a super hot hatch with real world pace and handling to rival cars three times the price. Speaking of price... £30,000 for an Astra? Really?