Development of Vauxhall’s new three-door Astra has shifted to Scandinavia ahead of its launch at the Frankfurt motor show in September. The firm hopes the VXR model pictured here will outscore Renaultsport’s benchmark Mégane 250 hot hatchback on power, handling and coupé-like styling.
The next-gen VXR will get around 50bhp more, taking its power output to just shy of 300bhp, and will also feature a UK-honed and track-developed chassis designed to give it circuit performance to match that of the highly rated Renault, and take on Ford’s forthcoming four-pot Focus ST.
Vauxhall looks set to its stated intention of keeping the hot version of the forthcoming three-door Astra — likely to be badged GTC — as close as possible to the extreme looks of the Paris motor show concept that previewed the new model.
This style-focused attitude is likely to transfer to the entire production GTC range, not just the VXR — but the high-performance variant will get a heavily modified chassis over its more mundane stablemates. “This VXR will be much more extreme and hardcore than the old one,” an insider told Autocar. “It’s being designed to offer a track-day experience far beyond the outgoing model’s.”
One of the key elements in this is the removal of the old VXR’s electronic ‘artificial limited-slip differential’ and the use instead of a mechanical Quaife-type unit. This will be mated to HiPerstrut front suspension, a set-up not dissimilar to a double wishbone layout that has proven successful on the Insignia in providing steering feel and accuracy, but minimising torque steer.
The GTC is expected to appear in production form at the Frankfurt show in September and will go on sale early next year. The VXR will follow around six months later; a debut at next year’s Geneva show is likely, with cars in showrooms by summer 2012.