Holden As­tra has the power to match its head­turn­ing looks

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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