What is it?
The Vauxhall Astra Biturbo. Not a fire-breathing hot hatch, rather the most potent diesel Astra ever. Equipped with a 192bhp 2-litre twin-turbo diesel, it costs from £23,925 in GTC three-door form, and has the VW Golf GTD in its crosshairs.
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Biturbos get a unique exterior styling package (which looks very VXR-like if you choose the three-door), special interior touches and a 6mm drop in ride height.
The engine comes from the Vauxhall Insignia, but requires a more compact setup to squeeze into the Astra’s engine bay. A smaller turbo deals with the low-rev stuff – and provides 80 per cent of the 295lb ft maximum torque from just 1250rpm – with a larger one joining it and then taking over beyond 3000rpm.
The Astra Biturbo’s stats look impressive, combining a 7.8sec 0-60mph time with 129g/km CO2 emissions and 57.7mpg fuel economy.
What’s it like to drive?
We’ve long praised the finely judged ride and handling of cooking Astra five-doors and Sports Tourers, and that remains the case with the Biturbo, feeling keener still with lower suspension. Better yet is the GTC three-door, whose HiPerStrut front suspension brings a sharper, more incisive front end. It’s a great base for a diesel warm hatch.
Sadly, the resulting thump in the back you might expect is missing, and it never feels quicker than that Golf GTD, despite a 24bhp and 37lb ft advantage. Refinement is also an issue – rev much past 3000rpm and you’ll hear a vocal and gravelly soundtrack, though the low-rpm torque band does mean this can be remedied.
It’s a brisk car and one with useful roll-on acceleration thanks to its chunky torque figure. There just aren’t the fireworks its sporty styling and ‘Biturbo’ badging might suggest.
How does it compare?
It’s over £1000 cheaper than the Golf, offers an extra 2mpg and sits a tax band lower. It also looks more exciting and boasts a Sports Tourer in its range – there’s no GTD estate. Yet the Golf feels more polished and isn’t left standing by the Astra, despite a decent gap in the pair’s performance figures.
Anything else I need to know?
The Biturbo arrives as the Vauxhall Astra receives its mid-life update, with the inevitable new headlights and bumper designs and a host of new technology. European Opel Astra buyers also get the choice of a new four-door saloon model.
|Engine||In-line 4-cyl, 1956cc, twin-turbo diesel|
|Max power||192bhp @ 4000rpm|
|Max torque||295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm|
|Top speed||139mph (claimed)|