There’s a wide range of sporty hatch options on the market today, each with its own take on the balance between outright performance and practicality. For the reborn Astra VXR, it is the former that is the more relevant description.
Previously known locally as the Opel Astra VXR, it has been rebirthed under the local Holden nameplate as The General moves towards full-line importation.
As for the car itself, not much has changed besides the badging… not that that’s a bad thing. Uner the bonnet lies a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine which punches out a Megane-munching 206kW. Even more impressively, there’s 400Nm on tap, funnelled to the front wheels via a chunky six-speed manual gearbox. It also sounds like an old-school Ford Sierra RS Cosworth when its punted hard…
If the engine impresses, the chassis tuning should also be commended. Similar to the Megane RS the Holden Astra VXR’s HiPerStrut front-end layout is designed to minimise torque steer, via the use of a separate steering knuckle. There is also a mechanical limited-slip differential helping to put the power down.
The Astra VXR also boasts adjustable damping via the FlexRide system. It offers standard, sport and VXR settings which also affect steering response via the electro-hydraulic rack. VXR mode also sharpens throttle response.
Brembo brakes slow things down and 20-inch alloys shout the Astra VXR’s intent, along with the sports body kit.
Inside there’s alloy drilled pedals and eight-way adjustable leather-appointed sports seats.
Previous experience of the Astra VXR indicates the ride is never less than firm with those big 20-inch alloys, but the turbocharged delivery is noteworthy, really punching you in the back from 4000rpm. If you like your hatches hard, then the Holden Astra VXR should be on the shopping list, particularly at a starting price of $39,990 plus on-road costs; cheaper than it was under the Opel badge.