Vauxhall Astra VXR
Bold limited edition version of Vauxhall's Astra VXR celebrates the model's on-track success.
If you like your hot hatches brash, bold and loud, then the Nürburgring Edition could be the car for you. Its all-white finish, distinctive chequered graphics and great soundtrack turn heads. However, it lacks the sophistication of some rivals, and is pricey when you consider the limited changes. We’d buy a standard VXR and fit the Remus exhaust to that instead.
Here's a hot hatch with a chequered past! Called the Vauxhall Astra VXR Nürburgring Edition, it’s been launched to celebrate the model’s success at the famous German circuit.
The standard VXR lapped the 13-mile track in eight minutes, 35 seconds in 2005 to claim the lap record for a hot hatch. The Vauxhall was bumped off the top spot earlier this year by the revised Ford Focus ST, but company bosses still felt the achievement shouldn’t go unnoticed – even if it’s taken them quite a while to celebrate the landmark!
With its brilliant white paint and distinctive chequered stripe covering the bonnet, roof and tailgate, the newcomer certainly manages to turn heads. Adding to the sporty look is a set of white 18-inch alloy wheels, carbon fibre door mirror trims and Nürburgring badges on the B-pillars.
Inside, race circuit logos appear on the heavily bolstered Recaro sports front seats and centre console, while the well laid out dashboard features shiny carbon fibre-effect trim.
Otherwise, the cabin is standard VXR fare, which means solid build, decent quality materials and plenty of room, despite the rakish profile of the three-door bodywork.
Mechanically, the changes have been kept to a minimum. The Nürburgring uses the same 237bhp 2.0-litre turbo motor as the standard car, which means it can cover the bench-mark 0-60mph sprint in 6.2 seconds.
The most significant update is the addition of a new sports exhaust produced by specialist firm Remus. And it’s the soundtrack from this system that’s most impressive.
Hit the start button on the dash, and the Vauxhall burbles noisily into life. Accelerate hard and the note gets louder and harder, while lifting off the throttle at speed results in the sort of popping, fizzing and crackling sounds that you’d normally associate with a racing car. Despite unchanged suspension, the Nürburgring Edition feels sharper than the VXR on twisty tarmac.
This is down to a combination of the new alloy wheels – which are lighter and wider than the items they replace, and increase the Astra’s track by 2mm – and Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres. The rubber has been specifically developed for this model.
Sadly, the Nürburgring suffers from the same lifeless, kickback-prone steering as the VXR, and ultimately it lacks the polish, finesse and composure of the Focus ST and VW Golf GTI. Priced at £21,295, this special edition adds an extra £1,575 to the cost of a basic VXR. Not only does your extra cash buy you a more eye-catching Astra but, with only 835 being built, a more exclusive one, too. You’ll have to be quick, though: Vauxhall says more than three-quarters of the limited run is already spoken for.