Thursday, 14 August 2008

Motor Show Meets SMMT test day


One of the cars I drove but failed to photograph on the SMMT test day back in May was the Vauxhall Astra VXR Nurburgring. This was a serious oversight as it was a thoroughly impressive car.

Mostly the impression was of a huge amount of noise from the special Remus exhaust. Whenever rapid acceleration was called upon – something the VXR can muster in abundance – a deep, resonating growl came from the rear of the car. I also think there were some pops and bangs on a trailing throttle. With my sensible head on it all seemed a bit juvenile but it was rather good fun.

As far as it was possible to tell the Nurburgring could muster a fair degree of grip and steering control on the Millbrook hill circuit. How much was down to the basic virtues of the VXR and how much to the modifications made to the Nurburgring model I could not say as I’ve not yet driven a standard VXR. It was the eager turn-in to tight bends and the slingshot acceleration out of them that really impressed.

Other than that the VXR Nurburgring had a comfortable interior, apparently decent ride comfort and a level of refinement at speed that you wouldn’t credit from the noise made under acceleration.

For me it is vital that a hot hatch should be fun to drive. My current favourite hot hatch is the Renault Clio RenaultSport 197 but the Astra VXR Nurburgring runs it very close for fun and is probably more practical.
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