They’ve been a while coming but here are the first official images of the next Vauxhall Astra VXR.
As you can see the Astra VXR is based on the 3-door Astra GTC, but eclipses that model’s performance thanks to a new 280bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that also produces 440Nm of torque. Vauxhall claim that the Astra VXR will be good for 155mph, making it one of the most powerful and fastest cars in its class.
With 280bhp the VXR has enough power to see off most of the current competition – the fastest Megane has 265bhp, the upcoming Focus ST has about 250bhp and the Golf R has 270bhp. With the 300bhp Focus RS no longer on sale the only hot hatch that can spoil the VXR’s party is the Audi RS3.
While the Astra VXR is based on the new GTC, there are a number of changes to the chassis that make this much more than a GTC with a bit of extra power. For the first time the VXR gets a mechanical limited slip differential as standard which, when combined with the GTC’s clever HiPerStrut suspension, is said to offer ‘exceptional lateral grip and traction through bends’. Hopefully the torque steer of the old car will also be contained.
Looking at the pictures you can’t fail to notice the massive 20-inch alloy wheels. Behind them sit a new Brembo braking system and an enhanced version of Vauxhall’s fully adaptive FlexRide suspension. In normal Astras the Flexride system offers a ‘Sport’ button to sharpen up the handling, but in the VXR it there’s an extra ‘VXR’ button for even firmer damping and sharper throttle and steering control.
As well as the alloys the VXR features side skirts, roof spoiler and two trapezoidal tail pipes. The trapezoidal shapes can also be found at the front on the foglight surrounds and in the pattern of the grille. On the inside are VXR branded sport seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Vauxhall hire the services of ex-touring car racer and Le Mans 24-hour winner, “Smokin’ Jo” Winkelhock. I’m sure James May will be particularly upset to learn that most of the VXR’s testing was corried out on the Nordschleife, but Winkelhock seems happy with his work.
We have devised a great package that will convince even the most experienced and enthusiastic drivers – and not just on the Nürburgring!Joachim Winkelhock, Vauxhall test driver, F1 and Touring Car racer
That’s all we’re going to learn for now, with price and specification details due to be released early in 2012. Ever since the new Astra was launched in 2009 would-be VXR buyers have only been able to get their thrills from the used Vauxhall market, but now they can ignore the classified ads and start pestering their local dealer.