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Vauxhall will be heading to this year’s Geneva Motor Show with its most powerful front-wheel-drive model yet, the Astra VXR Extreme.
Vauxhall revealed its hot new hatch, looking to take away some of the spotlight from Ford’s Focus and Fiesta ST. The brand new VXR hatchback is the fastest and most powerful production vehicle from Vauxhall yet, boasting 280-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder. Vauxhall is also claiming that their new VXR hatchback will have a top speed of 155-mph.
The new VXR hatchback is based on the popular Astra GTC but sports much more aggressive styling to go with its uber-powerful engine. In addition, Vauxhall ensures us that the VXR will receive unique chassis modifications and a specially developed mechanical limited slip differential compared to its GTC counterpart.
The changes doesn’t stop there, as the VXR will be equipped with beefy Brembo brakes and Vauxhall’s FlexRide system, offering a Sport and VXR mode that will adjust damper, throttle and steering control. On the inside, performance bucket seats, a flat-buttoned steering wheel and VXR badging separates it from the GTC.
GALLERY: Vauxhall Astra VXR Hatchback
New rules to Britain’s MoT inspection program, used by the government to declare whether vehicles are roadworthy or not, could end up costing motorists thousands of dollars for non-essential repairs.
European Union regulations, which Britain is subject to, require that electronic stability control systems must be checked, and any vehicle that doesn’t pass will be declared unfit for British roads. One reader of British magazine Auto Express complained that he recieved a bill of $2,715 to fix the system in his Vauxhall Astra compact car, when the system was fitted as an option. The reader noted that an Astra that didn’t have the system at all would be declared road worthy.
Systems like airbags, catalytic converters and factory-fitted Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems will also be tested, and any defects could result in similarly expensive repair bills. This issue has left us wondering whether the OEMs are setting us up for a fall by making these systems so costly to repair, leaving some owners to abandon their perfectly good vehicles for a new car, rationalizing their purchase as an alternative to throwing money at an old car.
The Vauxhall Astra is one of Britain’s most popular cars, and is also known as the spectacular flop that was the Saturn Astra in North America. While North Americans didn’t take too kindly to the compact, Belgian-built hatch, Europeans adore the Astra, but the next generation will face some stiff competition from the upcoming Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf.
The Vauxhall GTC concept should give us a glimpse of what the next Astra looks like, and while GM certainly has the styling part down, the guts of the car make us even more optimistic. A 2.0L turbo four-cylinder, 6 speed manual gearbox and big wheels feature prominently, as does a start-stop system. We’d wager that this particular car will pave the way for some kind of sporty hatch. After all, most Astras are sold to families and police departments, where diesel engines and steel wheels are the equipment of choice.
Gallery: Vauxhall GTC Concept
Hit the jump to see the official press release