Naming a warmed up version of the Astra VXR the ‘EXTREME’ is asking for trouble. If it’s not extreme enough it’ll become a laughing stock, but make it too extreme and it’ll be criticised for being unusable on the road.
Well, Vauxhall certainly aren’t taking the first path. Although the Astra VXR EXTREME may have little more than 20PS extra it receives some serious modifications that may just warrant the name.
A carbon-fibre roof, for example. Not steel but actual carbon-fibre. It’s part of a weight-saving package that sees the Astra shed 100kg, with carbon-fibre also being used on the rear wing, the diffuser, front spoiler, bonnet, suspension cross-bracing, engine cover and wheels.
Just swapping the roof for carbon-fibre saves 6.7kg as well as helping to lower the centre of gravity. The aluminium front wings weigh only 800g each, compared to 2.2kg for a steel item.
The direct-injection, all-aluminium engine, said to produce ‘over 300PS’ is Vauxhall’s most powerful 2.0-litre unit. It’s connected to the front wheels via a manual six-speed transmission and limited-slip differential. The power increase and weight savings see the VXR’s power-to-weight ratio jump from 187bhp/ton to at least 216bhp/ton.
Add to that a set of six-piston Brembo stoppers with 370mm diameter discs, sticky Hankook Ventus R-S3 tyres and adjustable dampers and you can see where the Astra Cup race car influence comes in.
The inside doesn’t escape the EXTREME treatment either, losing the rear seats in place of a roll bar. Recaro bucket seats are fitted with Schroth six-point harnesses, while the steering wheel is swapped for a carbon-fibre-reinforced, suede-covered item.
Vauxhall are also hoping to avoid the ‘too extreme’ criticism by making it clear that the VXR EXTREME is meant to be a track day tool. Just one that you can legally drive to and from the track.
However, the VXR EXTREME isn’t a certainty yet . Vauxhall will be watching the reaction at Geneva before committing to a low-volume production run, so if you want one you’d better make sure you let them know!