Vauxhall Astra VXR hatchback
- Blisteringly quick
- Stunning looks
- Comfortable for this class
- Expensive to buy
- Expensive to run
- Renaultsport Megane is slightly better
At a glance
"The most powerful car in its class, the Vauxhall Astra VXR also offers sharp handling to match its incredible performance."
At the very top of the Vauxhall Astra range sits the Vauxhall Astra VXR hot hatchback. Focused on delivering driving thrills, this car is all about the need for speed. Its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is very powerful, making 276bhp. In fact, this is the most powerful car in is class – able to accelerate from 0-62mph in only 5.9 seconds. To achieve this, the handling and suspension have been tweaked to firm up the ride and maximise grip. However, despite its extreme nature, the VXR does still work as an everyday car. Only the firm ride is likely to cause problems, becoming quite uncomfortable on long journeys.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Powerful engine is thirsty
Vauxhall has worked hard to keep the Astra VXR's running costs as low as possible, but there’s only so much you can do to make a hot hatchback efficient. Stop-start cuts the engine when you're stopped at traffic lights, but you’re still only going to see between 28.8 and 39.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 189g/km. That means a hefty road tax bill for an Astra, while insurance will be pretty expensive, too, given the performance on offer. You’ll also find yourself replacing front tyres on a fairly regular basis if you make the most of the car's considerable performance.
Engines, drive & performance
Extremely quick, involving and focused
If you’re looking for an extreme hot hatchback version of a mainstream car, then the Astra VXR is most definitely for you. It produces 276bhp from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, so it can accelerate from 0-62mph in only 5.9 seconds. It also feels very much at home on twisty roads, as it has a huge amount of grip – so much, in fact, that it's almost impossible to unsettle the Astra VXR at road-legal speeds. The steering is suitably precise and responsive, giving you lots of feedback through the wheel. All these traits work together to make the Astra VXR an ideal car for those who enjoy driving quickly.
Interior & comfort
Suspension is very firm, but other cars in this class are worse
People in the market for a fast hot hatchback are not likely to want supple, comfortable suspension. The VXR has typically stiff performance-car suspension, which is fantastic for handling but not so good at absorbing the many bumps and potholes on a typical British road.
Inside, the seats are comfortable when you first sit in them, but spend more than an hour behind the wheel and you’ll begin to feel a few aches and twinges. It's worth pointing out that the VXR's ride compares favourably with other models in this class, such as the VW Scirocco R and Renaultsport Megane 265. There's also the option to firm up the suspension even more with Sport and VXR driving modes. These settings are only suitable for use on the smoothest of roads, or better still on a racetrack.
Practicality & boot space
Despite the stylish looks, the VXR is surprisingly practical
As the Astra VXR is only available as a three-door, it's not as practical as the standard five-door Astra hatchback. Adult passengers will find it difficult to squeeze into the back seats, and they’ll probably find it cramped once they’re in there, too.
Yet despite its tight rear seats, compact dimensions and sloping roofline, the VXR is a reasonably practical car overall. You get 380 litres of boot space with all the seats still in place, which expands to a decent 1,165 litres when you fold down the back seats. Reasonable luggage capacity isn't likely to be a high priority for your average hot hatchback buyer, but it's handy to have all the same.
Reliability & safety
Astra GTC on which the VXR is based has proved to be reliable
Vauxhall marched up the manufacturer rankings in the Driver Power customer satisfaction rankings for a few years, until the 2013 poll saw a 13-place tumble to 26th place. The Astra itself didn’t make it into the top 100 cars, ranking 103rd, but it's still better than the previous model in almost every respect. All of the parts used have been tried and tested across the Vauxhall line-up.
The Astra VXR should be safe, too, even though this specific model hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP. The Astra GTC on which it's based secured the maximum five-star rating, and all Astras have six airbags and electronic stability control as standard.
Price, value for money & options
One of the most expensive cars in this class
The good news is that the Astra VXR costs less to buy than a Volkswagen Scirocco R. The bad news is that it costs more than either a Ford Focus ST or Renaultsport Megane 265 – both of which are arguably better cars. You do get a relatively generous amount of equipment with the VXR: electric windows, air-conditioning, a DAB digital radio, advanced FlexRide suspension and a limited slip-differential that improves grip in corners are all standard.