HOLDEN’S COOL HOT HATCH
Holden Astra has the power to match its headturning looks
IT CERTAINLY looks the part sitting low and predatory.
And in terms of power and performance, it’s right up there with the cream hot hatches.
We’re talking about Holden’s firebreathing 206kW Astra VXR.
Yes, you heard right. It has of chest-pounding performance, bottled up in a sexy Euro hatch — maybe not with the right badge but
heritage all same. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine punches out an impressive 206kW of power and 400Nm torque, latter available between 2400 to 4800 revs.
The features a state-of-theart, twin-scroll turbo, along with continuously variable, twin-cam, electro-hydraulic cam phasing, including high overlap at low engine speeds for improved turbo response.
It also boasts sodium-filled exhaust valves, with all valves actuated by friction roller valve levers.
There’s also under skirt, oil jet, piston cooling and an extended water jacket for improved cylinder bore cooling, plus dual counter-rotating balance shafts.
A six-speed manual is standard and the only transmission offered, along with adjustable chassis control.
In addition to automatically adapting conditions driving styles, FlexRide allows drivers to choose from three preconfigured settings, with standard, sport and VXR settings.
The latter delivers more direct steering, responsive throttle is tuned for maximum performance.
Unlike lesser models VXR has electro-hydraulic steering, for better precision and
Weighing in at 1543kg the hatch rides on huge 20-inch wheels with a spoiler, sports body kit beefy 355mm Brembos up front.
Quick loud are operative words.
The VXR bolts out of the gates and goes hard, with a raucous noise under full acceleration.
It’s definitely fun car to drive with quick steering, high levels of grip and an easy-to-use, close ratio gear change.
But it’s not a particularly comfortable one.
Maximum torque doesn’t kick in until 2400 revs, so it’s necessary to inhabit the lower gears reap the full benefit. You also need be a bit careful because low front scrapes on driveways.
And HiPerStrut/Watts link suspension bottoms out frequently, so it prefers smooth tarmac to the stuff they laughingly call roads of town. Where’s the rear-view camera? It has rear parking sensors and a big 7-inch computer screen just like other Holdens — but alas no camera.
The VXR takes 98 RON premium unleaded or 95 at a pinch it’s thirsty piece of work with small 56litre fuel tank.
That despite the fact it comes with auto stop-start that shuts down the engine when it is idle to save fuel.
Rated at 8.0 litres/100km, we got just 400km out of tank before it was crying for more — at a rate of 10.7 litres/100km according the trip computer.
The high bolstered sports seats make entry and exit difficult, as do large, heavy wide opening doors that can access in tight spaces a challenge.
And once you’re it’s real stretch to get hold of the seatbelts.
Annoyingly boot can only be released from key fob.
Bear in mind 245/35 series tyres will be expensive to replace and if you happen put a hole in one, there’s no spare tyre — of goo compressor are supplied reinflate the offender.
Priced from $39,990, the VXR is well equipped.
The eight-way adjustable leather sports seats heated with power bolsters and lumbar support for both driver passenger.
There’s also two-zone climate air, satellite navigation, auto high beam, electric parking brake, lights, wiper rear-view mirror, plus premium 6-speaker audio with DAB+ digital radio and integrated apps such as Pandora, Stitcher Tune In Radio.
The instrumentation is, however, cluttered difficult to use, with too many buttons choose from, particularly the satnav its twist and push control knob — it needs a touchscreen.
Affordable fun, but would you buy one over a Volkswagen GTI?
It’s certainly up there in terms of performance, the ride can’t match the Golfs.