Review: Vauxhall Astra VXR Racing Edition

 

The characteristics of this car are so extreme, some awesome, some terrifying, some sickening that I feel it deserves a decent review. I’ve owned this car for a year now and have done plenty of inner city driving as well as fun B-Roads and long motorway and autobahn stints.

The Vauxhall Astra VXR Racing Edition is a special edition car brought out by Vauxhall to celebrate another BTCC win by their racing team 888 Racing. Along with the Corsa VXR Racing Edition there are 888 made.

Styling, Interior and Equipment

It’s a standard Astra VXR underneath but the styling really sets it apart, that’s the exterior and quite frankly awesome interior. As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that rubbish and I could see why this could be a bit to in your face for some people. That said though I’ve never heard a bad word said about it, and I think all the looks it gets whilst you’re driving around are admiring ones.

Styling differences over the standard VXR are: There is only one colour, Flame Red, the 19’’ 5 spoke twin spoke alloys sprayed black, black wing mirrors, the spoiler is sprayed black, black rub strips down the side, tinted rear windows and the odd Racing badge. This is a very aggressive looking car that just screams get out of my way.

The interior now, really is something special. There’s no metal look plastic in here every things leather and piano black. The centre console is a super shiny piano black while the tops of the doors are carbon fibre (or carbon look). Everything else, Door inserts, gear nob and gaiter, handbreak, steering wheel, seats are all covered in black leather with red stitching. And those seats, massive Recaro sports seats, adjustable in every direction you could think of, and heated. Also inside there’s the usual aircon, steering mounted stereo controls, ally pedals, trip computer (including a stopwatch), climate control, electric windows and… a little button that says sport on it. I’ll come back to that. There’s also airbags everywhere you could possibly cram one.

Equipment wise then this car does not fall short but doesn’t offer anything special either. To look at though and to sit in it really couldn’t get much better. You’ll notice that straight away by the amount of glances you get from pedestrians and jealous looks while sat at traffic lights. And it’s exclusive, I haven’t seen another one in the UK.

Performance

237bhp. That’s a lot in a car that’s certainly not big and it’s clearly been tuned for acceleration. Vauxhall claims 0-60 in 6.2 secs but put your foot down in second or third and that’s where you’ll find the real power, it is rapid. So rapid in fact it brings about the cars biggest flaw. The amount of effort you have to put in to be able to use that acceleration because the traction really is very poor. Pull away in first and put your foot down and all you’ll do is have a fight with the steering wheel without actually going anywhere. This car is incredibly quick but you have to be careful with it, unless you hate tyres.

Top speed? 152mph. The six speed gear box means you can sit at a very high speed all day with out breaking anything. Plus the aggressive look of the car does a lot to convince people to get out of your way, although if they didn’t you’d be safe. The brakes are very powerful indeed. Massive disks all round. The sport button. Press it and it firms the suspension even more and makes the throttle and steering even more responsive. I've never really found a use for it as it's firm enough for me as it is but apparently if you're moving quickly on a winding road you really notice the difference. The exhaust note changes as well.

Handling

See, now this is where the Vauxhall Astra VXR Racing Edition falls short. Take it to a completely smooth track, or road if you can find one and it’s hard work but rewarding. There is no body roll and those wide tyres provide plenty of grip. As long as you can keep the power away from the front wheels whilst trying to turn then you will cover ground extremely quickly. However, a normal English road with the odd bump and this thing becomes dangerous. The slightest of potholes throw the car off course as if it’s just decided it wants to end it all and that tree looks the best bet. That’s whether going straight or turning. Professional motoring journalists call this car a hooligan and this is why. Cambers also affect the car, it pulls towards them as if sliding down a hill. If you’re on a bumpy road and want to put your foot down then make no mistake, this car can be very dangerous until you get the hang of it. Awesome power combined with the fact it's suicidal and scared of bumps means you’ll have to fight it to go where you want. Quick once you get the hang of it.

Economy

Boring bit so I’ll fly through this. It’s an Astra therefore it’s got a big boot and back seats, the back seats are a squeeze though with those massive front Recaros getting in the way.

Fuel economy: Its third flaw. I’ll sit on the motorway doing 90mph and it shows up as about 14mpg. Enough said. Through towns it’s even worse, whilst accelerating and slowing down in traffic it’s as if it ejects the fuel all over the road somewhere.

Summary

Despite it regularly trying to kill me and the rate it drinks petrol I really like my Vauxhall Astra VXR Racing Edition. It has so much character. Plus the way it looks and that acceleration, and I have to say I quite like the admiring glances. Be careful with that power on bumpy roads and as long as you’ve got money for petrol you’ll enjoy this car. Snap one up nearly new at a massive discount. £25,000 this car came out at. You’ll now get a perfect condition, one year old, 10-15000 miles for about £17,000. And no, in case you’re wondering, I’m not selling mine. Not yet.

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