While the all-new Vauxhall Astra sweeps up fleet sales, the previous-generation car lives on in three-door ‘Sport Hatch’ form, with this Arctic Edition version effectively a run-out special for the hot VXR. Just 500 will be made, each with a white and black paint-job, 19in wheels and leather-trimmed Recaro front seats.
First the bad news: it feels its age. The interior is visibly dated while the driving position is far from best in class. Better news is how it drives. There have been no engine or chassis tweaks, so the driving experience is ‘as you were’, and the Astra VXR’s old-school feel is really quite fun. There’s little turbo lag but noticeable torque-steer and plenty of bump-steer (thanks to a rock-solid ride), but it all adds up to an involving drive, even at cruising speeds.
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Tackle a corner and there’s a disconnected feel from the steering that belies the impressive amount of grip that is actually available. But learn the VXR and you’ll soon be pitching it into bends with confidence and getting from point to point quicker than you’d dare imagine – with amusing exhaust pops and the whoosh of the turbo as accompaniment. It mightn’t be smooth progress, but it certainly won’t be dull.
|Engine||In-line 4-cyl, 1998cc, turbocharged|
|Max power||237bhp @ 5600rpm|
|Max torque||236lb ft @ 2400rpm|
|Top speed||152mph (claimed)|