Performance Vauxhall - - FRONT PAGE - WORDS AND PHO­TOS Dan Wil­liamson

Af­ter all th­ese years it still looks good and goes well. 2.2-litre As­tra Coupes can be had for bar­gain prices and you cer­tainly get a lot for your money.

Stylish, re­li­able, rea­son­ably fast and tune­able – what more could you want from your Vaux­hall? The As­tra 2.2 Coupe fits the bill per­fectly, and with prices cur­rently start­ing at un­der a grand, it’s one of the best Grif­fin bar­gains around.

Launched in July 2000 as a suc­ces­sor to the much-loved Cal­i­bra, the Coupe took most of the ex­ist­ing Mk4 As­tra and dra­mat­i­cally tweaked the shape with a sleek roofline, pil­lar­less doors, smooth bumpers and high boot lid. The de­sign and man­u­fac­ture was en­trusted to Ital­ian coach­builder Ber­tone.

The Coupe range was avail­able from the out­set with Vaux­hall’s al­lal­loy chain-driven Z22SE 2.2-litre power plant, in this guise known as the Ber­tone Edi­tion (as op­posed to the 1.8-litre Coupe Edi­tion or Z20LET Turbo Edi­tion). It pushed out an un­der­stated 144bhp, along with 150lb/ft torque. So it was no ball of fire, but 60mph came in 8.2 sec­onds and the 135mph top speed was ad­e­quate for an ev­ery­day driver. An au­to­matic gear­box op­tion slowed it down to a 132mph and nine sec­ond 0-to-60 mph daw­dle, high­light­ing the 2.2’s tar­get mar­ket of own­ers seek­ing a cruiser, not a bruiser.

A com­pre­hen­sive spec in­cluded 6x16 inch al­loy wheels, sport sus­pen­sion, ABS, air con­di­tion­ing, elec­tric mir­rors, white di­als, leather steer­ing wheel, cruise con­trol, CCR 600 cas­sette head unit and four-disc CD changer.

Pro­duc­tion changed lit­tle through­out the Coupe’s life­span, adding a trip com­puter in Au­gust 2001, delet­ing the ex­tend­able seat cush­ions in June 2002 but gain­ing a CD stor­age box and height-ad­justable pas­sen­ger seat. An ex­tra-cost Dy­namic pack gained ESP (Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Pro­gramme) and 17in wheels, a Leather pack of­fered heated leather seats, while a Win­ter pack in­cluded heated seats and head­lamp wash­ers.

May 2003 dropped the Ber­tone badge but brought re­duced CO2 emis­sions. By 2004, the stereo was down­graded to the CDR500 but ESP, a rear spoiler and 17in al­loys were made stan­dard is­sue.

As al­ways, Vaux­hall went to town on lim­ited edi­tions. First came the June 2001 SE1 with Europa Blue paint­work, rear spoiler, 17in five-spoke rims, low­ered sus­pen­sion, blue Al­can­tara trim, blue seat­belts, CDR500 stereo and alu­minium gear­knob. Only 100 SE1s were fit­ted with the 2.2 en­gine; they all had man­ual gear­boxes.

It was fol­lowed in Oc­to­ber 2001 by the SE2 – also in Europa Blue, but with blue Al­can­tara seats, black leather bol­sters, trip com­puter and au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Oc­to­ber 2002 saw the in­tro­duc­tion of the de­sir­able Linea Rossa, with unique red and black leather in­te­rior, 17in wheels and ESP.

April 2003 brought the Edi­tion 100, de­vel­oped to mark Vaux­hall’s cen­te­nary. The Edi­tion 100 2.2 Coupe fea­tured Cen­te­nary Blue paint­work, 17in BBS al­loys, ESP, beige leather trim, a matt-chrome cen­tre-con­sole and an al­loy gear­knob.

By 2005 the Coupe was aban­doned in favour of the Sport Hatch – a much mod­ernised but more ex­pen­sive propo­si­tion al­to­gether.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.