When Vauxhall launched the Astra VXR in 2005, it delivered the most power of any of its peers. However, that never quite seemed to be enough to convince car journos that it was the pick of the crop at that time, yet it didn’t stop enthusiasts falling for the VXR’s charms.
With aggressive styling befitting a hot hatch and an equally aggressive power delivery there’s no denying the VXR is a hoot to drive and a capable car on almost any road. With the sort of power it sends through the front wheels there is inevitably going to be torque steer, yet it’s not impossible to handle and easy to correct by simply lifting off the gas. There’s even a “Sport” button on the dash to firm up the steering and damping while also sharpening up the accelerator’s response.
Some claim that while the former aspects are a worthwhile addition, the latter issue with the accelerator makes the pedal even twitchier
to use, but it’s something most owners will gladly learn to live with especially after they’ve thrown the sure-footed Astra through a few tight bends.
In terms of value for money, the Vauxhall VXR can definitely put up a strong case too. Considering the amount of power the 2ltr engine supplies, plus the standard equipment like 18in alloys, Recaro seats and ESP (or 19in wheels, Sat Nav, leather upholstery and xenon headlights if the previous owner ticked those option boxes), there’s not much more you need from a standard car. If there is, then the tuning world is well equipped to deal with the hot VXR, so buyers won’t find too many issues there either.
It’s fair to say that Vauxhall’s are one of those brands in the tuning world that also has a love it or hate it reaction from enthusiasts, but ruling a car out because of the brand before driving it is short-sighted, especially so in the Astra VXR’s case.
Vauxhall Astra VXR Stats
Engine: 2ltr turbocharged
Top Speed: 152mph
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
In all honesty there aren’t too many specific things to look out for with the Astra VXR. The oil return pipe from the turbo is one common issue, resolved with a new style gasket with Vauxhall warranty having covered that for most owners. The rocker cover gasket has also been known to deteriorate but outside of these, there aren’t too many “common” problems.
You can check for fault codes when buying a VXR though by depressing the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time then turning the key until the dash lights come on. The fault code will show where the mileage normally is and there are lists of what the codes mean readily available online.
The only other things to take note of are chipped bonnets and scuffed alloys plus squeaking seats, all of which are more reasons to knock the price down than to walk away.
TUNING A VXR
A remap can take power to around 270bhp and 300 lb/ft (and often improves economy on the VXR), but reputable tuners will also smooth out the power delivery while still maintaining the VXR’s punch.
Heat is an issue for the VXR’s engine so an uprated intercooler is a good bet as is an uprated panel filter, with some modifying Astra diesel airboxes for more flow without additional heat entering the equation.
On the handling side a proper geometry set-up of the suspension will help even a standard car to reduce understeer, although uprated springs and uprated rear anti-roll bars will add even more improvements.