Verdict – An insane boy’s toy that loves corners and will not fail to put a smile on your face. It also looks great and will stand out from the other hot hatches, especially in the signature blue. However, it is blessed with a drinking habit and carries over a few genetic faults from the GTC. 4/5
‘Whooosh’ goes the turbocharged 2 litre engine. ‘Bang’ goes the incredibly hard sports suspension. ‘Pop’ goes the twin exhausts whenever I may lift off. Welcome everyone to the new Astra VXR, and my god it has taken its own merry time to arrive. Based on the current beauty that is the Astra GTC, the new VXR has been spoon fed some steroids and now looks pumped up, aggressive and ready to go. Vauxhall hasn’t fallen into the trap of making the VXR ‘too’ sporty. If you think I am going mad, please feel free to look up the Vectra VXR. Trouble is, since the Astra had such a long pregnancy with the VXR, everyone was expecting more and more. Will Vauxhall deliver the goods though?
|One of the best looking hot hatches ever?|
Let’s just get the bad points out of the way first. The doors are incredibly heavy and big; good luck using this in a tight multi storey car park for example. The interior is best described as acceptable. That is not to say it is bad quality, oh no Vauxhall/Opel are on the up, but it’s just black, black and garnished with a bit more black inside with the only real hints of the VXR being the insane seats (more later on them), a few VXR badges dotted around and a special VXR button. The rest is conventional Astra which is already starting to look outdated unfortunately. And lastly, with a price starting from £26,000 (yes, starting), this is pushing into dangerous BMW 135i M territory. Not to mention the competitors the VXR has to fight against are noticeably cheaper too. This car better have something special within…
When you get in and get over your depression that the cabin causes, you can’t help thinking how comfortable these Recaro seats are. They look so hard-core and yet they are pretty much just as comfy as any other car. A peek in the back will reveal good space that should be able to fit four adults comfortably. Mind you, you probably wouldn’t want to do a long journey. Key in, start it up – ah, now the Very Blue Vauxhall is starting to flex its angry muscles. From the outside, the exhausts pop and crackle at idle with a slightly annoying thrum from the engine. From the inside however, things are very hushed; a bit too hushed in fact personally for a sports car. I want a little growl, not complete refinement. This is becoming an issue throughout the whole sports car industry.
|Beauty is only skin deep - the interior is far from nice|
Once you are rolling on the road, you quickly realise you will lose your license if you are not careful. That turbo spool is addictive and makes the car not quick for a hot hatch. It makes this thing quick full stop. The engine has a rather lazy nature as torque is produced low down the rev range and power does tail off in the upper regions. Get it right though and you will manage to take this car from 0-60 in just 5.9 seconds and easily push it to 155mph. In an Astra for crying out loud!
This car does not enjoy the cities though. It will express its fury by giving you shockingly low mpg figures and bump you around all over the place from the hard suspension (even in normal mode). If it weren't for the excellent seats, the ride would become intolerable. It is skittish anywhere you go but not unbearably.
So what if you really give it the beans? Well Opel/Vauxhall have really worked hard in this area and so therefore the VXR features hydraulic steering rather than electric in all other Astra’s and borrows the tried and tested HyPerStrut from the Insignia VXR. All this really shows when you give it a few corners; it grips and grips until you reach a tiny bit of "you’re insane, slow down" understeer, but by then you will be out of the corner and will bury your foot deep into the carpet to experience the turbo whoosh all again. It really doesn’t get tiring. It is safe to say if you do manage to one day take this for a hard spin, you will come back with a big grin, no licence and an empty tank of fuel.
2013 Vauxhall Astra VXR Reviewed by Jack Cooper on 14:44 Rating: