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Iceni Magazine | January 17, 2020

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Vauxhall Astra VXR 2.0i Turbo (280PS)

 

Vauxhall, Astra, VXR, 2.0i, Turbo, Tim, Barnes-Clay, Review, Motoring, Journalist

Astra VXR on track

Tim pic

 

Vauxhall Astra VXR 2.0i Turbo (280PS)

By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist

Discover more from Tim at www.carwriteups.co.uk / Twitter @carwriteups

The hottest Astra – the VXR – from Vauxhall is exciting to look at and thrilling to drive.

The muscular stance, the eccentrically enormous 20 inch alloy wheels, and the leather hip-hugging sports seats aren’t exactly understated. And, if for some reason you’ve had a ‘senile moment’ and need reminding further that you’re not in any ‘normal’ Astra, don’t worry, because ‘VXR’ is inscribed on the steering wheel.

So, in terms of looks, the Astra has done a good job of puffing itself up before even going anywhere – but does it deliver on the move? The answer to that is a slightly schizophrenic one: yes, and no.

You see, whilst the VXR benefits from chassis modifications to cater for the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which produces 276bhp and 295lb ft of torque, the front wheels find it hard to cope with the clout. This means when you hit the gas hard there’s a lot of torque-steer, and the steering wheel can almost yank itself free from your grip. But this makes the Astra compelling – in a challenging sort of way. After all, it is a thoroughbred from Vauxhall’s hot-hatch stable and volatile beasts need to be kept in check.

Vauxhall, Astra, VXR, 2.0i, Turbo, Tim, Barnes-Clay, Review, Motoring, Journalist

Vauxhall Astra VXR exterior

On the straights, the mighty motor certainly attracts looks, and the deep rumble, building up to a turbo whistle, turns heads. But through the bends is where you’ll grin like a Cheshire cat. This is because, compared with the turbocharged GTC model, the Astra VXR’s springs have been stiffened by 30 per cent and the car lowered by 10mm, to allow more driver connection on road and track. The result is outstanding adhesion when the way ahead starts going all twisty on you.

And when it comes to scrubbing off speed – the almighty Astra has it covered. The vast cross-drilled, ventilated front discs and four-piston callipers demonstrate that Vauxhall and Brembo have worked hard to develop a braking system which will bring a car capable of 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds and 155mph to a swift stop.

To make life behind the wheel of the mighty motor even more interesting, you have the choice of three chassis settings which can be selected at the push of a button. ‘Standard’ delivers all-round performance for a range of road driving, with ‘Sport’ stiffening the dampers for reduced roll and tighter body control. ‘VXR’ is the most extreme mode. Not only does it enhance throttle responsiveness, and change the instrument backlighting from white to red, but the dampers become even more rigid, and tilt is further reduced during cornering.

Vauxhall, Astra, VXR, 2.0i, Turbo, Tim, Barnes-Clay, Review, Motoring, Journalist

Astra VXR cabin

There’s no doubt about it, this is a stimulating car to drive, and one that will get you lots of attention. Perhaps too much, judging from the amount of teen racers determined to ‘take me on’ every time I wanted to nip to ASDA. Great; but if I wanted the attention of spotty 18 year olds wearing baseball caps, then I’d have bought an old Nova GTE with a fake turbo whistler shoved up the tailpipe. I’m afraid, for me, the Astra VXR doesn’t convey a very erudite image. But then again, at over £27,000 on the road, you’re likely to be pretty accomplished if you have the means to afford one.

 

PROS ‘N’ CONS
  • Thrilling √
  • Muscular √
  • Brakes √
  • Torque-steer X
  • Image X
FAST FACTS
  • Max speed: 155 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 5.9 secs
  • Combined mpg: 34.9
  • Engine: 1998 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder turbo petrol
  • power (bhp): 276 at 5500 rpm
  • torque (lb/ft): 295 at 2500-4500 rpm
  • CO2: 189 g/km
  • Price: £27,315 on the road
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