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  • #16
    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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    • #17
      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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      • #18
        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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        • #19
          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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          • #20
            Astra H, 2.0iT (Z20LEH), Power Curve

            To convert kW to bhp, multiply by 1.341
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            • #21
              Astra H, 2.0iT (Z20LEH), Pictures - Video

              Manuel Reuter driving the Astra OPC on Nordschleife.
              http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...5&q=opel+astra
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              • #22
                A full lap at Nurburgring Nordschleife
                Feature: In car telemetry
                Car: Astra OPC
                Driver: Manuel Reuter
                Date: October 2005
                Note: Also see the introduction and Director’s cut parts.
                http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...20347052662167
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                • #23
                  Astra H, 2.0iT (Z20LEH), Nürburgring Edition

                  The car for when even an Astra VXR isn't VXR enough...

                  Astra VXR Nürburgring Edition, on sale now Exclusive white paint, embossed seats and graphics Priced at £20,995 on-the-road. There are plenty of hot hatches on the market, but it’s the Astra VXR that’s the undisputed Ring leader...

                  And to prove it, Vauxhall has pulled the wraps off the Nürburgring edition, named after the car’s spiritual home, where much of its pre-production development was carried out.

                  Based on the standard Astra VXR and priced at £20,995, each individually numbered Nürburgring edition will come with an exclusive all-white paint finish and lightweight white 18-inch alloy wheels, equipped with bespoke Dunlop tyres, are also specified. Other exterior features include dark tinted windows, carbon fibre effect mirrors and B-Pillars and distinctive chequered flag body graphics, to further emphasise the car’s incredible performance.

                  Mechanically similar to the standard VXR, the Nürburgring Edition produces 240PS in factory tune, giving it the ability to accelerate from 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. Each UK-specification car will also come provided with a Remus Sports Exhaust, developed with Vauxhall’s BTCC race team, Triple-Eight Race Engineering.

                  Like the standard car, the Nürburgring Edition benefits from a six-speed manual gearbox and lowered, uprated VXR suspension with ESP as standard. Ventilated 321mm diameter disc brakes at the front and 278mm diameter discs at the back help slow things down, while blue-painted calipers remain a VXR trademark.

                  The Nürburgring Edition theme continues inside, with carbon fibre detailing on the door trims and fascia, leather trim with the Nürburgring circuit graphic embossed into the unique Recaro front seat backrests and an individually numbered plaque showing each car’s build number.

                  In fact, the only thing it doesn’t come with is one of those Nürburgring bootlid stickers you can buy when you do a lap of the circuit. Such a shame, as it means you’ll have to drive it there and buy one yourself.
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