A Barrellers Dream: The 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR Review

The 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR is one of the most powerful FWD hot hatches money can buy. But it’s not just the amazing speed that makes it stand out. Along with head turning looks, this fantastically engineered performance car delivers an extremely rewarding driving experience that matches up to the hell raiser under the bonnet. The 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR is one hell of a package.

The 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR is certainly a beautiful looking car. Everything about it works to strike a seamless balance between elegance and aggression. Upon the sporty Astra base, the specially sculpted bumpers, dual trapezoidal exhaust pipes, side skirts and a lovely roof spoiler all meld seamlessly with the organic, yet muscular body shape.

2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR

Inside, the cabin of the 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR is admittedly a lot less exciting than the exterior. There are some fine touches and great build quality here which makes this a very nice place to be regardless. The low sitting sports seats are super adjustable to the point that you can determine the angle of the side cushions to find that perfect level of comfort and support. The small leather stitched steering wheel and metal plated pedals also help it feel pleasantly sporty. The central console is a bit busy with the buttons, but luckily the most important/regularly used functions are operable from the steering wheel. The dot matrix display in the centre of the rather nice piano key glossed instrument layout looks pretty old hat for something this advanced, but it’s not too much of a drawback.

The great thing (or rather one of the great things) about the 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR, is that way in which, despite all that performance, it’s still very practical. The rear seating area is a tad awkward getting into, but once there you’ll enjoy the amount of space on offer for a car such as this. It’s spacious enough for 2 adults in contrast to something like the Scirocco R or Renault sport Megane. The boot gives you a very respectable 370ltrs which comes complete with a ski hatch for longer items and an underfloor storage compartment. The tailgate lip is a bit high meaning you’ll have to heave things over but with the space available, it’s a small thing to ask. Then of course you can push down the rear bench for a full 1165ltrs to bend to your cargo-related will.

2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR Rear View

The 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR does feel pretty civilised to drive about generally, but rest assured it is far from dull. It would seem that the VXR has been geared towards people who want a more mature kind of performance car. Something that can look and feel fairly respectable, yet have an absurd amount of power and performance on tap for that element of extreme fun should they feel like it. This is possible through some brilliant dynamic engineering.

There are 3 dynamic features that stand out. The first is the Drexter electronic limited slip differential which distributes torque to where’s needed in order to power through the corners. Then there is the clever hyper strut suspension setup which has great anti-torquesteer qualities (as in it stops that pull on the wheel as you’re driving at speeds). Then there is also Vauxhall’s Flexride adaptive suspension fitted. This allows you to alter the ride quality as well as the steering as and when you please via 3 modes. The extreme VXR setting is really only meant for track days with everything engineered and set to racing perfection. Red lighting takes over the instrument display in the manner of red mist to hint at what this is all about. The best part of this is the fantastic instant throttle response, which annoyingly doesn’t carry over to any of the other settings. All this great technology combines to create the great handling dynamics to really harness the fierce output under the bonnet of the 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR Review.

The 2.0ltr turbo petrol engine rumbles to the tune of 280ps and a whopping 400Nm of torque which make you rocket towards the horizon as if you were on fast forward on an old VHS. The 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR hits 62mph in just 5.9 seconds up to that artificially restricted top speed of 155mph. When combined with the cleverly engineered handling technology, it really allows you to sit back and enjoy what’s on offer here.

The brakes are excellent (having been tested by thrashing them on the infamous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany.) The 3 stage stability control system allows you to select your optimum amount of traction for when you want to throw it about – this is great for the old fun factor. The steering is an old style hydraulic system, but there is absolutely no denying the brilliant amount of feel you get from it. You feel very connected to the relationship of your car to the road. It is worth noting that the 6 speed manual gearbox can be a bit notchy at times but it doesn’t detract from what’s going on much. Overall, this car is most at home barrelling through the twisty stuff as the hi-tech balances everything out; which you might agree makes for a brilliant recreational driving experience.

All in all, what’s the lowdown with the 2014 Vauxhall Astra VXR? This is without a doubt the best hot hatch that Vauxhall have ever produced and is exactly what Vauxhall needed to shoot into high contention in this segment. The package you get with the Vauxhall Astra VXR is a beautiful thing – a proper performance car disguised as a hot hatch. It delivers a great balance of near supercar performance and lovely handling dynamics which match its sexy looks and surprisingly good everyday practicality. It’s an outstanding all-rounder which presents a great alternative to its talented segment rivals. Combine that with sensible pricing and you’re onto a proper winner.


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