In the concept, the swooping three-door Astra’s coupé-like profile has been beefed-up with 19in wheels, a purposeful bodykit with new front and rear bumpers, wheelarch extensions, sill mouldings and a new body-coloured grille. Unusually-shaped trapezoidal exhausts complete the package.
However, Vauxhall’s version will differ from the concept. Most obvious will be a vee-shaped grille in either body-colour or black, but the VXR will also have more aggressive bumpers, tipped to be even more sculpted with wider air inlets and outlets. Vauxhall is even looking at bigger and re-shaped exhausts for the production version.
The concept’s wheels won’t make production, either. Instead, a five-spoke design like that on the new Vectra CDTi twin-turbo diesel concept is expected to feature.
Technical details for the engine and chassis are closer to sign-off. The turbocharged powerplant is related to the VXR220 unit with its ‘hybrid’ turbo, incorporating a profiled turbine to provide even boost at low and high engine speeds. Peak power is 240bhp with maximum torque of 221lb ft. The power delivery is said to be quite peaky, with the engine delivering a rush of boost as the engine revs rise.
Acceleration to 60mph from rest is officially rated at ‘sub-7.0sec’, but the target is said to be closer to 6.1sec – which would match the class-leading Alfa 147 GTA’s and Renault Mégane 225’s, while easily beating the Honda Civic Type-R’s and Mini Cooper S Works’.
Fundamental to the Astra VXR’s success will be its ability to put down its 240bhp effectively – a major challenge for the front-wheel-drive chassis and the strut front/torsion beam rear suspension. But the VXR won’t be equipped with a limited-slip differential – as used on the Ford Focus RS – because Vauxhall believes the technology is too unruly for the road.
Instead it will rely on sticky 235/35 rubber allied to a stiffer chassis with computer-controlled variable-rate dampers and electronic traction and stability control systems.Lowered by 15mm, the chassis is being tuned by Lotus, whose engineers are pounding around the Nürburgring circuit in Germany in a VXR disguised as a five-door Astra.
Much of Lotus’s skill will come in re-programming the IDS-Plus variable damping system and its Sport setting, operated via a dashboard-mounted switch. The Sport button selects new suspension settings that improve roll control, increase steering and throttle response and ease the stability control programme to allow more tyre slip for sportier dynamics.