Vauxhall is planning to turn the three-door Astra you see here into a 300bhp, hardcore VXR that can take on mega-hatches like the Ford Focus RS and Renaultsport Mégane.
Sources say Vauxhall is keen to regain ground lost to the Focus RS; when the original VXR was launched, it was a rival for that car’s tamer stablemate, the ST.
One insider said: “The VXR brand is about extreme performance. It’s safe to say that the next Astra will build on where the current car is and react to market trends. It’ll be quite a power hike over the current car.”
That means a hefty gain from the current VXR’s 237bhp to match the Focus’s 300bhp — but GM engineers think they will be able to achieve this with a more highly tuned 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged powerplant, instead of switching to a V6.
Like the current Focus RS, the VXR will stick with front-wheel drive, so expect some form of electronic differential to help cope with the increased power and torque. But that drivetrain solution is likely to seem conventional when compared with the next-generation RS, which is tipped to be a hybrid, combining a 250bhp petrol engine with an electric motor.