Vauxhall Astra VXR

The VXR brand has gone from strength to strength since the first car – a VXR220 Turbo – went down the line in 2004.

Vauxhall’s new Astra VXR will incorporate deliver a class-leading 400Nm of torque, giving it a 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds and robust mid-range performance.

The VXR’s turbocharged, 2.0-litre direct-injection engine harks from the Insignia family, but while its aluminium block is similar, the VXR has a unique aluminium cylinder head and new turbocharger to liberate 276HP and over 200Nm per litre of torque – the highest specific output in its class.

Developing a high-torque engine for the Astra VXR was the key to unlocking the car’s real-world, mid-range performance, rather than focusing on power alone. And with maximum torque produced on a broad plateau between 2450rpm and 5000rpm, VXR drivers will never want for instant acceleration.

An all-new, state-of-the-art intake system was developed to feed as much air into the turbocharger as possible. The turbocharger itself was also improved to take more charge-air pressure, which builds from as early as 1400rpm for linear and strong acceleration. The maximum charge pressure is now 1.5 bar – 25 per cent more than in the Insignia 2.0T.

Astra VXR drivers can also look forward to a soundtrack that has been carefully engineered to appeal to enthusiasts, both from inside and outside the car. Drivers will get the full effect in the mid-to high rev range, especially when they change up from third to fourth under full throttle.

But outright performance hasn’t come at the expense of efficiency and durability. Like all recent VXR models, the Astra was subjected to prolonged testing at the Nüburgring’s notorious Nordschleife for 10,000 kilometres under race conditions – the equivalent to around 110,000 road miles.

And while the Astra VXR can accelerate from 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds and hit a maximum 155mph, standard Start/Stop technology has reduced fuel consumption by 14 per cent (compared with the previous model) to a combined 34.9mpg, and reduced emissions to 189g/km.

Vauxhall engineers developed a completely new air intake system to improve air flow dynamics, reduce pressure loss and boost the engine performance even further.

The size of the intake air duct was significantly increased, as was the air cleaner’s volume, reducing intake noise and allowing a greater quantity of air to be processed. This helped improve fuel consumption to a combined 34.9mpg, while reducing emissions to 189g/km – a 12 and 14 percent drop respectively compared with the previous Astra VXR.

The engine’s turbocharger is based on the twin-scroll principle. This means that in the exhaust manifold and turbocharger, the channels of the first and fourth cylinders are separated from those on the second and third cylinders. The pulsating exhaust gases are fed through spirals (scrolls) and brought together directly ahead of the turbine. By separating the flows, their dynamics are fully exploited.

The build-up of pressure starts as early as around 1400rpm. The maximum charge pressure has been increased to 1.5 bar – that represents a 25 per cent increase compared with the one used in the 2.0T Insignia. It was therefore necessary to make the turbocharger even tougher, more durable and able to withstand the increase in pressure.

In every respect, the Astra VXR is a more extreme version of the current GTC, and nothing embodies the visual changes more than the new model’s exterior design revisions.

Adding extra presence, the Astra VXR gets a specially sculpted front and rear bumper, side skirts, aerodynamic roof spoiler and twin bumper-integrated tailpipes. Standard 19-inch wheels with 245/40 ZR tyres underpin the dramatic body, with 20-inch forged items available as an option for those customers who want to make their cars look even bolder.

“The Astra VXR’s appearance is muscular and masculine,” said Brit, Andrew Dyson, the car’s chief designer who works in Vice President of Design, Mark Adams’ team. “Just a quick glance at its exterior reveals that the car is fast and agile. It really looks like it was made for high performance driving, and for its driver to push the limits.”

The VXR shares much of its design with the GTC. Only three lines are used to create tension and define the outline of the silhouette. A fine, crisp line sweeps downwards from the front door to the bottom of the rear wing; a second line strikes through the door handle and stretches to the rear, emphasising the car’s dramatic stance and broad shoulders. A third line follows the roof’s clean, rakish silhouette.

The centre-piece of the Astra VXR’s cabin is Vauxhall’s all-new flat bottom steering wheel. Its diameter has been reduced from 370mm to 360mm compared with all other models in the Astra range, making the steering feel even more precise and direct. The handwheel’s grip has been enhanced by packing supple sponge rubber around a magnesium/steel hybrid ring and then covering the entire wheel in premium, soft cross-stitched leather. The wheel is available with an optional heated rim, and features the VXR logo, as well as multi-function controls on its spokes.

Other VXR-specific features abound, including a unique sports gearlever and alloy-plated pedals with rubber studs for better foot grip. Glossy piano-black chronograph-inspired dial rings contrast against a satin-black background, while the wing-shaped upper instrument cluster flows back into the doors and armrests. Black headlining, VXR-branded floor mats, and door panel stitching in Arden Blue or Cool Pearl give the Astra VXR’s interior a purposeful yet exclusive feel.

A new design of front sports seat, made with cutting-edge lightweight material is standard across the Astra VXR range. Mounted 17mm lower than in the Astra GTC (and 30mm lower than in an Astra Hatch) the seats give front occupants a heightened sense of connection with the car’s chassis.

Source: Vauxhall press

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