Our pick of the best bang for your buck in 2019…
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!
ASTRA H VXR
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!
CORSA C 1.8 SRi
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.
ASTRA G COUPE TURBO
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.
CORSA D VXR
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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