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  1. #11
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    Specification and Equipment
    EXTERIOR FEATURES

    VXR sports front grille with body-coloured ‘V’ and larger air dam/bumper
    VXR front fog lights
    VXR side sills
    VXR rear roof spoiler
    VXR rear bumper with centre cut-out for tailpipe
    Trapezoidal centre exit visible exhaust tailpipe
    INTERIOR FEATURES

    Recaro sports seats with leather-trimmed side bolsters
    Unique three-spoke leather-covered sports steering
    wheel with VXR logo
    Unique VXR aluminium-effect gear knob
    Unique VXR instrument panel with stepper motor speedometer and tachometer
    VXR carbon fibre-effect inserts on facia and doors
    Air conditioning
    ESP with traction and understeer control, ABS and brake assist.
    Multi-function trip computer
    Sport switch
    Front, side and curtain airbags
    CD/MP3 player
    OPTIONS AT EXTRA COST
    Leather pack (including heated seats)
    Electronic Climate Control (in lieu of Air Con)
    Cruise control
    Interactive Driving System-plus with Continuous Damping Control
    Adaptive Forward Lighting with bi-Xenon headlamps and dynamic bend beams.
    Rear parking distance sensors
    19-inch wheels
    Satellite navigation
    Integral six-disc CD multichanger
    Bluetooth mobile phone system
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  2. #12
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    Prices and Options
    Price: £18,995
    Astra VXR option and accessory availability
    Leather Pack (Leather seat facings, heated sports front seats with tilt and lumbar adjustment, Indirect door night lighting, centre rear seat head restraint: £1,000
    Smoker Pack (Cigar lighter and front ashtray) :£50.00
    Electronic Climate Control (ECC) incorporating air-conditioning: £250.00
    Cruise control: £200.00
    Interactive Driving System-plus with Continuous Damping Control: £400.00
    Adaptive Forward Lighting inc. bi-Xenon headlights with dynamic beam and high-pressure washers: £750.00
    19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels: £500.00
    Rear parking distance sensor: £350.00
    Two-coat metallic or pearlescent paint: £335.00
    CDC 40 stereo radio/integral six-disc CD autochanger/graphic information display/steering wheel mounted audio controls/seven speakers: £400.00
    CD 70 stereo radio/CD/MP3 CD player/CD-ROM-driven satellite navigation system/colour information display/steering wheel mounted audio controls/seven speakers: £1,250.00
    Mobile phone system with Bluetooth (does not include phone): £300.00
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  3. #13
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    Introduction
    • Unbeatable price-performance ratio
    • Chassis tuned for UK roads and drivers
    Can you stand the heat? With the type of power and performance figures which were reserved for supercars just a few years ago, the Astra VXR is set to redefine the boundaries of the hot hatch sector.
    Here are the critical figures – 240PS, 320Nm, 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 152mph, all in a car that costs from only £18,995 on the road.
    Put simply, the VXR is the ultimate expression of New Astra. A performance flagship that brings to light all that’s great about the current Astra line-up, building on its already enviable reputation for striking looks, great handling and impressive performance.
    But VXR means more than that. Taking the name of the VX Racing Astras, four-times winners of the British Touring Car Championship, the badge is only given to models with race-bred DNA.
    But VXR isn’t just about the power. The VXR badge is only applied to cars that take performance and driver appeal to new extremes, with a chassis that can excite and stimulate on the daily drive to work, not just on track days.
    Designed and tuned in the UK, Astra VXR has been created with the needs of British buyers firmly in mind. The chassis was jointly developed between Vauxhall’s engineers and experts at Lotus, and unlike some rival performance models its set-up is uniquely tailored for our roads, rather than a pan-European compromise.
    It’s a car that has been built to reward you, with all of the major development decisions being made from the driving seat and not the boardroom. The only thing Astra VXR doesn’t take to the max is its price, which leaves some rivals looking embarrassingly expensive.
    As with the uncompromising Monaro VXR and VXR220, the Astra stands for unrivalled excitement, class-leading performance, stunning styling, superb handling and, above all, incredible value for money. After all, what’s the point in having dreams if they’re unattainable?
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  4. #14
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    Stylish Design
    • Astra style taken to the extreme
    • Unique bodykit, colours and wheel designs
    • Special VXR interior
    First impressions count. And your performance car should excite you as much when it’s standing still as it does when you are behind the wheel. Luckily, the VXR bites you straight away, then slowly sinks its teeth in.
    The VXR’s designers had it easy to start with, not least because New Astra is the best-looking car in its class, and the three-door Sport Hatch took Astra’s sleekness even further.
    For VXR, Vauxhall wanted a car that matched that beauty with aggression. The stylists created a car which in the manner of the truest greats, went from the 2004 Paris motor show’s HPC concept car to reality with no compromise.
    Available in a choice of four distinctive colours – Flame Red, Star Silver, Arden Blue and Black Sapphire – the VXR’s profile is unmistakable, even from a distance. The fat wheelarches, 15mm lowered suspension and unique styling kit make it appear glued to the road surface, giving a look that screams poise, agility and style – three of the Astra VXR’s key features.
    The close-up styling cues give VXR an even more imposing look. The sports front grille, deep air dam and fog lights leave you in no doubt that this is a performance flagship, while the theme is continued around the car with extended side sills, a tailgate roof spoiler and a unique rear bumper, housing a centre-exit trapezoidal exhaust.
    Look even closer and you’ll notice the huge ventilated brake discs, colour-coded Arden Blue callipers and ultra-low profile tyres. Beefy 18-inch alloys are standard, while even meatier 19-inchers – unique in this class and rare on any car outside the realms of exotica - are a £500 option.
    And the dynamic look continues inside, too. Unique Recaro sports seats with leather-trimmed side bolsters, a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel with a VXR logo, an alloy gear knob, racing-style instruments and carbon-fibre door inserts all help mark the VXR out as something very special.
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  5. #15
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    Dynamics
    • UK specific chassis tuning developed in conjunction with Lotus
    • Massive 321mm front brakes
    • Standard ESP and 18-inch wheels
    Astra VXR isn’t a car that’s only fast in a straight line. Vauxhall’s engineers understand that a true performance car has to be able to cope with the power under its bonnet, and that’s why it has a bespoke, uniquely-tuned chassis that’s more than up to the job of coping with 240PS being fed through its front wheels.
    As a result, both Vauxhall and Lotus have spent the past 12 months tuning and refining the VXR’s suspension set-up to deliver the best in grip, feedback and steering feel, in the process creating a perfectly-honed driver’s car.
    Starting with New Astra’s already much-lauded dynamics package, the Astra VXR is fitted with a spring and damper system developed by Lotus’ Gavan Kershaw - the man behind the VX220’s chassis. This ‘passive’ set up is designed specifically for the UK, and consequently feels perfectly at home on a British B-road.
    The requirement was for a ‘fast road’ package that the committed sports driver would enjoy but would not intimidate the less aggressive driver. As with all real performance cars, comfort took second place to driver enjoyment – although by tuning the car on UK roads the refinement and ride are remarkably composed compared to rivals. This isn’t a car which will leave you with a headache at the end of a long drive.
    Describing the changes made to the standard Astra’s chassis, Gavan said “Imagine you could place a pole through the car to demonstrate the yaw point. The VXR pivots around the gearlever whereas the standard Astra SRi pivots around the front axle point. This gives the VXR a more immediate turn in response, much like some acclaimed 1980’s hot-hatches - but without having the potentially dangerous snap oversteer which can catch drivers out.”
    Spring and damper rates are increased by 40 percent and 50 percent respectively, while rebound springs have been added to the damper units to improve on limit control. The front roll bar is now thicker, and the ride height is reduced a further 15mm over the SRi versions. New steering linkages also raise the roll centre at the front by 30mm.
    With the suspension hardware sorted, the software which controls the power steering was also retuned – and again the ‘mapping’ is specifically tuned to match UK roads for effort, turning speed and overall feel.
    Vauxhall’s pioneering IDS-Plus chassis technology, an option costing just £400, upgrades the passive set up with electronic Continuous Damping Control, which adjusts damper setting to react instantly to road conditions, eliminating unexpected pitching and body movements.
    A specially tuned Electronic Stability Programme is also standard, but enthusiastic drivers who wish to do without the safety net of technology can switch the system off to explore the limits of the car’s adhesion. However, as a final back up, the system will still intervene in exceptional circumstances where the sensors detect that the driver has lost control and an accident is likely – even when the ESP has been switched off.
    Equally important for safety and performance driving, the Astra VXR uses the biggest brakes fitted to any Vauxhall other than the V8-engined Monaro. The front discs are a massive 321mm, while the rears use 278mm rotors. The system is equipped with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist for extra peace of mind.
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  6. #16
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    Engine and Performance
    • 240PS from a 2.0-litre ECOTEC turbo.
    • Supercar like 152mph top speed
    • Six-speed close ratio gearbox
    It’s all very well having a car that looks the business, but what if it’s all show and no go? The Astra VXR certainly couldn’t be accused being “all mouth and no trousers”.
    Beneath that sharp-looking bonnet beats the heart of a true performance car. Based on the already punchy 2.0-litre, 200PS turbocharged engine that powers the top Astra SRi, the VXR uses an uprated turbocharger and fuel injection system, coupled to revised inlet and exhaust manifolds to produce an incredible 240PS at 5,600rpm – that’s over 40PS more than rival hot hatches costing at least £1,000 more.
    It delivers an equally impressive torque output of 320Nm, available between 2,400rpm and 5,000rpm to ensure that the power is delivered evenly and flexibly, rather than in one frantic blast.
    That gives the VXR enough poke to sprint from 0-60mph in a neck-jerking 6.2 seconds, and on to a top speed of 152mph – the sort of performance which was previously the preserve of supercars.
    Power is fed to the front wheels through a specially-developed six-speed manual gearbox. The close-ratio transmission has been specifically tuned to suit the characteristics of the turbocharged engine, and has a light yet positive action, while the unique VXR gearknob is trimmed in leather and alloy to further heighten the pleasure of each shift.
    What’s more, Astra VXR sounds as good as it goes. As well as ensuring they got the best performance out of VXR, Vauxhall’s engineers tuned the exhaust for sound optimisation, meaning the engine sounds sporty - a real rarity for a turbocharged car.
    For those who want an even louder soundtrack to their driving adventures, a range of optional VXR sports exhausts will also be available.
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  7. #17
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    Safety and Quality
    • ESP and curtain airbags as standard
    • High-class materials and build standards
    Having a carefully developed chassis, tremendous brakes, electronic safety systems and dynamics which make sure the driver feels in control are major contributors to avoiding an accident in the first instance, but Astra VXR has been designed to provide the best in safety should the unthinkable happen. After all, it’s based on the New Astra – a car that scored the maximum five stars for occupant protection in stringent Euro NCAP crash testing.
    As a result, it comes equipped with twin front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags and overhead curtain airbags as standard, as well as seatbelt pre-tensioners and sensors that automatically switch on the hazard warning flashers and release the central locking in the event of an airbag deployment.
    Yet despite the impressive safety package, Astra VXR has been designed with real world running costs in mind, and this contributes to its lower than average 17E insurance grouping. Sensors measure collision impact forces, and the occupant restraint systems and airbags are activated depending on the nature and severity of the incident. This means that in a low-speed shunt, they’re unlikely to need repair.
    Similarly, the body has been designed to allow ease of repair after minor accidents. The front end panels, for example, are in three sections so that each can be individually replaced or straightened, cutting the cost of repair significantly. The light lenses are also lifted away from the normal ‘impact zone’, reducing the likelihood of them picking up damage in low speed car park knocks or similar.
    All of this shows the attention to detail in Astra VXR’s design, and it’s no more evident than in the cabin. Not only is the car generously equipped, but it’s also trimmed in top quality fabrics. The dashboard plastics and switches exude an air of quality normally found in much more expensive cars, adding further to the VXR’s amazing value for money appeal.
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  8. #18
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    Value for Money
    • Exceptionally low list price
    • High standard equipment
    • Long service intervals, group 17E insurance.
    A genuine performance car needn’t break the bank – as the Astra VXR proves. Costing only £18,995 on the road, no other hot hatchback can offer as much performance per pound.
    But it’s not just power that you get for the money, as Astra VXR has a standard equipment list that’s pretty comprehensive before you’ve even looked at the options list. Features such as air conditioning, 18-inch alloys, electric windows, a remote control ultrasonic alarm system, heated electric mirrors, front fog lights and a CD MP3 player are included in the price – an important factor to consider when comparing the VXR to some of its stripped-out rivals.
    There are several great value options too, including a leather pack at £1,000, along with innovative features such as Vauxhall’s highly praised Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL), incorporating bi-Xenon headlights and high-pressure washers.
    Stunning 19-inch alloy wheels are just £500, while upgrading the air-con to full electronic climate control adds £250. Cruise control (£200) rear parking sensors (£350) and a CD 70 CD MP3 player incorporating CD-ROM sat nav and seven speakers (£1250) are also available.
    If a class-leading sticker price isn’t enough, Astra VXR is also one of the less expensive performance cars to run. It falls into insurance group 17E, while many of its rivals are in groups 19 or 20, and its combined fuel economy figure of over 30mpg, rising to almost 40mpg on extra-urban routes, means it’s impressively frugal for a car with this level of performance.
    Residual values are expected to be steady, too, in line with the rest of the Astra range, which has a retained value after three years of almost 10 per cent higher than the previous generation car.*
    Despite the highly-tuned nature of the engine, Astra VXR requires no specialist servicing, unlike some turbocharged performance cars that need a trip to the dealer every 6,000 miles. Instead, it benefits from Vauxhall’s 20,000-mile annual health check and 40,000-mile/24 month servicing programme, making it easy for owners to calculate their annual running costs.
    Vauxhall’s Complete Motoring Plan can also be specified, allowing owners to pay for their routine servicing by direct debit from as little as £15 a month, including breakdown cover and safeguarding VXR drivers from all expenses other than tyres, exhausts and windscreens for the duration of the cover (up to four years from purchase).
    An unlimited mileage first year warranty is included in the price, along with a second and third year retailer warranty up to 60,000 miles.
    * Source, Glass’s Guide.
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  9. #19
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    Default Astra H, 2.0iT (Z20LEH), www.channel4.com/4cars, 2005

    www.channel4.com/4cars
    Date: 2005
    By: Andrew Frankel
    Let the battle of the hot hatches begin – again
    Twenty years ago, the hot hatchback was in its pomp. At the entry level, brilliant little French buzz-boxes like the Renault 5 GT Turbo and Peugeot 205 GTI were fun before they fell to pieces but the real slugging match was always between VW, Ford and Vauxhall. If you were a teenager back then, clutching your freshly printed driving licence, the aspirational cars were not Capris and Mantas but Golf GTIs, Escort XR3is and Astra GTEs. I can remember as if it were this morning driving my Metro to a Vauxhall dealer and persuading some bored salesman to let me drive their GTE. Utterly unattainable, the experience left me depressed for weeks.
    Then, as we know, hatches got hotter and hotter until so many were either crashed or nicked they became uninsurable and about as popular as measles. And ever since, these cars, which are better conceived to look after the day-to-day needs of the typical motoring enthusiast more than any other genre, have struggled to regain their form. There's been the occasional great - the Honda Civic Type-R and Focus RS to name two of the more recent examples - but nothing until now to suggest a sustained renaissance where it's needed most: among those cars that defined the breed all those years ago.
    But now I think we may just be on the verge of one. You don't need me to tell you how good the new Golf GTI is. I've whinged for over a decade about how long this once fabled brand has been sold down the river by VW's marketing department but, having driven the latest GTI, I forgive them everything. The Golf GTi is everything the old one was - fast, fun and forgiving - but it's also a superbly civilised thing with which to live. Something, with the best will in the world, you'd not have been tempted to say about my beloved Mk1 version.
    Best on the track
    And it's taken very little time for Vauxhall to respond. The car it has chosen to take the fight back to VW is this Astra VXR and its headline numbers make compelling reading: 240bhp versus the Golf's 200bhp, a top speed of 152mph (Golf 146mph), a 0-60mph time of 6.2sec (the Golf's claim is 7.2sec to an admittedly fractionally faster 62mph) and, best of all, a price of £18,995 which quite deliberately undercuts its old enemy by precisely £1000. Is a new hot hatch king upon us?
    If the pure driving experience were the only measure, I'd say undoubtedly that it was. Indeed the very fact that Vauxhall's engineers (with a lot of help from super-talents at Lotus) have been able to create a car capable of directing so much power through its front wheels alone is no mean achievement; ten years ago the result would have been a monster to drive. But in 2005 it's quite the reverse. Indeed I think the single most impressive aspect of this frankly astonishing new hatch is the fact that the engine, for all its power, is far from its best feature. What really makes this such an outstanding driver's car is the way it tackles a really difficult road.
    How difficult? Well I spent an afternoon thrashing it round the original Nurburgring race track (not the Nurburgring-lite facility next door where they hold the European Grand Prix each year) and that, believe me, is the toughest stretch of tarmac on the planet. And it coped just fine, scorching through plunging twists and turns and flashing over blind crests with an aplomb many rear-drive, two-seat sports cars would be proud to emulate. Even its brakes, usually the first things to wilt under the heat of such an environment, stood up to the punishment without complaint.
    In fact, if Vauxhall have made any mistake with this car at all, it is perhaps that it is a shade too track-happy, something that soon becomes apparent on a conventional road. For while it's perfectly useable everyday and just as fun off the track, stiff suspension and inconsistent throttle response can irritate in slow-moving traffic and similar urban conditions.
    Wait for the Focus ST?
    By contrast, the Golf, though nothing like as entertaining on the track and notably slower cross-country, would soothe and cosset you 99 percent of the time when the roads of your dreams are not laid out in front of you. This verdict is exactly what my predecessors were saying when the Golf and Astra squared up to each other when I was a callow, zit-encrusted Metro-driving teenager; it's taken 20 years but we appear to have come full circle.
    Or have we? The circle, you may have spotted, is not yet complete. We are missing a member of the original trinity and we won't see it until the end of the year. But the Ford Focus ST should be worth the wait. With a 220bhp engine splitting exactly the power outputs of the Golf and Astra, it will be aiming to provide VXR levels of excitement with GTI-style refinement. And with a five-cylinder engine and the well-documented skills of Ford's RS tuning department at its disposal, I will personally eat this computer if it's not a worthy competitor and better now, I suspect, than the always slightly disappointing XR3i was then.
    But until the Focus arrives, there's still a Golf and Astra to choose between. Me? I'd rather drive the Vauxhall and live with the VW. But it's hard to see how any true hot hatch enthusiast could be less than delighted by either. And that, of course, is the best news of all.
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  10. #20
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    Default Astra H, 2.0iT (Z20LEH), Power Curve

    To convert kW to bhp, multiply by 1.341
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