Our pick of the best bang for your buck in 2019…

Performance Vauxhall - - NEWS -

Our pick of the best bang for your buck in 2019.

Vauxhall’s lat­est range of per­for­mance cars might ap­pear luke­warm when com­pared to the VXRbadged hot hatches and fire-breath­ing V8s we’ve come to know and love from our favourite man­u­fac­turer, but that doesn’t mean you need to look out­side the Grif­fin scene for your next fix of high­oc­tane ac­tion. There are cur­rently a wide va­ri­ety of per­for­mance Vauxhall bar­gains avail­able to suit all bud­gets, mak­ing now a good time to snatch a stock-spec car to trans­form into your next fast-road racer.

In what can only be de­scribed as good news for those of you keen to mod­ify, many of the mod­els on of­fer are highly tune­able and are well served by a wealth of af­ter­mar­ket man­u­fac­tur­ers and spe­cial­ist ser­vice providers. In this ar­ti­cle, we take a look at Vaux­halls we think are pick of the bunch in terms of value for money (fo­cus­ing on cars cost­ing five grand or less), mod­ern lev­els of re­li­a­bil­ity, per­for­mance and tune­abil­ity. Sit back, re­lax and get shop­ping!


Few cars can lay claim to be­ing a game changer, but that’s ex­actly what the first-gen As­tra VXR is. We knew the Vauxhall scene was about to get a stiff shot in the arm when the ex­ceed­ingly hot hatch was un­veiled at the 2004 Bri­tish In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show. With a six-speed gear­box, UK-spe­cific sus­pen­sion en­gi­neered by the lads at Lo­tus and an evo­lu­tion of the out­go­ing As­tra GSi’s cel­e­brated two-litre tur­bocharged en­gine, the new ar­rival was an in­stant hit and would go on to be a high-vol­ume pro­duc­tion seller putting Vauxhall back at the top of the hot hatch game. This is great news for buy­ers to­day. Put it this way, you won’t have trou­ble find­ing an early As­tra VXR for sale.

Try­ing to find an un­mod­i­fied ex­am­ple in good con­di­tion at a rea­son­able price point is likely to be your big­gest chal­lenge; the huge amount of low-cost tun­ing gear de­vel­oped for the VXR means few of these awe­some As­tras have re­mained un­al­tered.

Keep an eye out for trans­mis­sion com­plaints, and don’t be afraid to spend ex­tra on a VXR with de­sir­able fac­tory cost op­tions, such as full leather, a colour in­for­ma­tion dis­play and big­ger wheels. Ex­pect to pay more for VXRs in Arc­tic, Nür­bur­gring or VXRac­ing trim. Don’t de­lay, though. Prices for stan­dard ex­am­ples are cur­rently at rock bot­tom. They won’t stay this way for­ever!


The corsa c was in­tro­duced al­most twenty years ago, re­plac­ing the corsa B, a stillpop­u­lar su­per­mini which en­tered pro­duc­tion in 1993. Based on a new plat­form, the third-gen corsa of­fered a wide va­ri­ety of trim op­tions, in­clud­ing the range­top­ping 1.8-litre Sri. The six­teen­valver was as good as it got while ea­ger beavers held on to hopes of a tur­bocharged corsa c GSi which failed to ma­te­ri­alise.

at its orig­i­nal point of sale, the corsa c Sri proved more pop­u­lar in 1.4-litre guise due to lower in­sur­ance and run­ning costs, mean­ing the 1.8-litre ver­sion re­mained largely over­looked. con­se­quently, the model can be dif­fi­cult to get hold of to­day. nev­er­the­less, we think this larger-en­gined Sri is well worth check­ing out, pro­vid­ing a su­per-af­ford­able base for a tun­ing project and one which dou­bles up as a fun daily. fac­tory equip­ment in­cludes six­teen-inch al­loys, model-spe­cific door mir­rors, a tail­gate spoiler and red calipers. full leather was a wel­come cost op­tion.

many peo­ple fail to recog­nise the 1.8 Sri as a full-fat per­for­mance model due to the im­pact of the later corsa D VXr, a rad­i­cal re­think­ing of the corsa con­cept. The good news is that on the whole, this con­fu­sion keeps prices of the ear­lier car ridicu­lously low, re­sult­ing in what we think is prob­a­bly the per­for­mance Vauxhall scene’s big­gest bar­gain right now. Se­ri­ously, you can bag a corsa c 1.8 Sri for five-hun­dred quid. That’s a lot of car for not a lot of money. What are you wait­ing for?!


It’s all very well coo­ing over the tun­ing po­ten­tial of a VXR hot hatch or an HSV-de­rived V8 mon­ster, but don’t miss out on what sits firmly in be­tween the two. Yep, we’re talk­ing about the Vec­tra VXR, a 2.8-litre, 24-valve, tur­bocharged V6 five-door with power, per­for­mance and prac­ti­cal­ity in equal mea­sure.

Orig­i­nally of­fered as a 255bhp five-door hatch or tourer, Vauxhall in­creased power to al­most 280bhp a cou­ple of years into Vec­tra VXR pro­duc­tion. VXRac­ing Vec­tras dom­i­nated the BTCC dur­ing this pe­riod, af­ford­ing own­ers of Vec­tra VXR road cars the op­por­tu­nity to take ad­van­tage of var­i­ous power up­grades, in­clud­ing en­gine en­hance­ments, sus­pen­sion modifications and big brake kits, such as the AP Rac­ing six-pis­ton pack­age from the now dis­solved Vauxhall Per­for­mance Cen­tre op­er­ated by the man­u­fac­turer’s for­mer BTCC part­ner, Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing.

Hor­ror sto­ries con­cern­ing tim­ing chains are largely ex­ag­ger­ated, with few en­gines af­fected, and nearly all of them be­neath the bon­nets of the ear­li­est Vec­tra VXRs. Com­fort­able cab­ins, ag­gres­sive body kits, stiff chas­sis, nine­teen-inch wheels, a great own­ers club and easy mod­i­fi­ca­tion through af­ter­mar­ket equip­ment form part of the model’s ap­peal, as does the abil­ity to fit the In­signia VXR’s big­ger tur­bocharger, in­jec­tors and in­ter­cooler as bolt-on up­grades. Torque is where the Vec­tra re­ally shines, though, as proved by our own VXR, a wrapped hatch cur­rently de­liv­er­ing 321bhp and 423lb/ft torque with lit­tle more than a panel air fil­ter, a dou­ble de­cat and a Stage 2 map.

Only 1,001 Vec­tra VXRs were pro­duced. A low num­ber of those built sur­vive to the present day. Prices are at an all-time low right now, so hurry up and grab your­self what’s ar­guably the great­est V6 to wear a Vauxhall badge. Do so be­fore the model’s rar­ity en­cour­ages the value of ex­am­ples in good con­di­tion to shoot sky­ward.


With the Vauxhall scene hold­ing the as­tra G GSi (and the lesserspot­ted as­tra G Sri Turbo) in such high re­gard, it’s easy to for­get the tur­bocharged as­tra G coupe. pow­ered by the same Z20LeT en­gine fit­ted to its hot hatch sib­lings, the cool coupe was in­tro­duced as the spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the cal­i­bra Turbo, one of Vauxhall’s most im­por­tant per­for­mance ma­chines prior to the in­tro­duc­tion of as­tras with map­pable ecUs. It’s not un­usual for us to fea­ture GSis pump­ing out big bhp, but any­thing the GSi can do, the coupe Turbo can do just as well, with the added bonus of be­ing a car com­mand­ing half the GSi’s pur­chase price. Yep, you can jump be­hind the wheel of a mas­sively tune­able tur­bocharged two-litre as­tra for less than a cou­ple of grand, rest­ing safe in the knowl­edge you’re in com­mand of a Ber­tone-badged bel­ter shar­ing a sil­hou­ette with the rac­ing as­tras Vauxhall used to dom­i­nate the BTcc in the early 2000s.

pil­lar­less doors, gor­geous looks, a range of at­trac­tive trim op­tions (Linea rossa twin-tone leather paired with flame red paint­work is our favourite!), a wide range of ex­te­rior colours, al­most 200bhp in stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion and the avail­abil­ity of a huge amount of tun­ing gear makes the coupe dif­fi­cult to ig­nore.


When Vauxhall an­nounced its hottest-ever su­per­mini, a na­tion of Grif­fin lovers could hardly be­lieve what they were hear­ing. not only would the new baby hot hatch sport a tur­bocharged 1.6-litre pow­er­plant, it’d pack a near190bhp punch. We weren’t dis­ap­pointed.

When launched in 2007, the corsa VXr’s chunky good looks, im­pres­sive per­for­mance and sharp, well-balanced han­dling amazed ev­ery­one. even Jeremy clark­son was full of praise for the small, sporty Vauxhall! The car fea­tured a new low­com­pres­sion Z16Ler en­gine, a six-speed gear­box and a 0-60mph sprint time of just 6.8 sec­onds. The model of­fered a sub­stan­tially re­vised (and low­ered) chas­sis, big­ger brakes, a model-spe­cific body kit, large al­loys and a stylish in­te­rior com­plete with sexy re­caros and a match­ing steer­ing wheel.

Vauxhall tuners were quick to pounce on the VXr’s lively chas­sis and will­ing en­gine. Stage 1 maps were of­fered al­most in­stantly, af­ford­ing own­ers an ex­tra 30bhp for not a lot of dosh. Since then, off-theshelf per­for­mance pack­ages fea­tur­ing up­rated en­gine in­ter­nals, big tur­bos and high­flow fu­elling equip­ment are push­ing corsa VXr power be­yond the 500bhp mark. al­most as pop­u­lar as the as­tra H VXr, an early corsa D VXr can be yours for far less cash than you might think.

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