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Vauxhall reveals new Astra VXR

Most powerful Astra ever with 277 bhp...

Vauxhall has today released details of the new Astra VXR. Based on the recently launched GTC 3dr coupe the VXR aims to set new standards for performance, ride and handling in a hot hatchback.

The Astra VXR comes with a 2.0 litre turbocharged unit with 277 bhp and 295 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful Astra model ever. The car also features a top speed of 155 mph. This makes it the most powerful of its rivals too, with the VW Golf GTi Edition 35 having 232 bhp, the Renault Megane RS having 250 bhp and the soon to be launched Ford Focus ST set to have 248 bhp.

Visually the VXR gets an aggressive makeover, with a front bumper featuring a large lower intake and prominent brake ducts at either corner. The rear gets a large diffuser (probably for show only) and twin exhaust outlets, while the car is lowered and sits on huge 20" alloy wheels. They fill the arches perfectly and increase the track as well, but we worry that the ride will be overly firm with such massive wheels.

The additions sit very well with the GTC bodywork with the deep swage line around the door and the sharp styling crease which arches from the door handle to the rear lights. In our opinion it's the best looking hatchback on sale today, a breath of fresh air in some rather boring and stagnated designs.

Under that great body sits GM/Saab’s HiPer strut suspension at the front to retain steering purity while the front wheels cope with transmitting a large amount of torque. An adaptation of a conventional front-strut, the VXR’s design features a separate knuckle joint that stops the ‘steering fight’ or torque steer that high power front-drive cars usually suffer from. Ford and Renault use similar designs in their rival hot hatches. The VXR also has a mechanical limited slip differential, which should cut wheelspin and improve traction from a standing start and out of corners. Under those 20" alloys sit high performance brakes by Brembo.

Inside the VXR gets high-backed leather sports seats, a VXR leather steering wheel and other small changes to give the cabin a sporty lift.

The VXR has had the chassis tuning work done in the now de rigeur Nürburgring, though Vauxhall haven’t yet divulged the all-important lap time. With the new Focus ST arriving soon, and the Golf GTi and Renaultsport Megane 250 stealing the sales the hot hatch battle looks like it’ll be continuing for some time yet…

Images courtesy of Vauxhall

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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more