The latest Astra from Opel in Europe and Vauxhall in England is a really handsome machine.
Surprisingly, it pips even the latest Focus on style, even in hum-drum TopGear "Star in a reasonably Priced Car" trim.
The LEDs (at night) are far better than anything out of Woking, so far, glowing a bright white around Dunsfold on the rainiest, grayest days of this never-ending winter.
The upgrade here adds 30 horsepower, a huge carbon-fiber overhall outside for racing aero, and a very impressive grip setup.
I was trying to think of what race series this car seems from -- and my guess is firmly BTCC. As Chevrolet retreats in Europe, it will also need a new BTCC contender to replace Jason Plato's unbeatable Chevy Cruze.
Yes, I typed unbeatable Chevy Cruze.
Plato's Chevy team is the championship owner since about 2011.
Vauxhaull notes in the details below that the VXR EXTREME could even see limited production -- which is GM-speak for "firmly on-the-way."
So, is it much more butch than the 270-horsepower Astra VXR that is already on sale?
Yes. The roll cage and seats of the VXR Extreme make clear that this is no comfy long-distance cruiser.
(Despite the production VXR's 20-inch rims, it is an all-day limo by comparison.)
The key mechanical upgrades are increased power, grip and downforce in all situations.
The latest downforce story for many race-ready versions of production cars these days seems to be all about managing lower body aero performance. Rear spoilers are key, as is the front splitter.
But Check out the lower detailing all around the Extreme versus the regular VXR!
This Extreme upgrade is clearly a honed racing machine in a way that most other front-drive sports cars are not/will not ever be.
While the full makeover will surely help overall performance, it does indicate a potentially-steep entry price as well.
Whether for ground effects or simply stability over huge crests in a track: the VXR's front bumper alone has more vents and slashes than a Dexter episode.
I think it is time for a structured, organized battle of OEM front-drive cars at the Nurburgring. In the rain, perhaps! Might be fun.
FULL REVEAL OF VAUXHALL'S RADICAL GENEVA STAR
Luton – With over 300PS generated from its 2.0-litre turbo engine, the Astra VXR EXTREME will be the most powerful front-wheel drive Vauxhall ever when it’s unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
Derived from last year’s Astra Cup race car that competed in the Nürburgring Endurance Championship, the EXTREME is the lighter, more powerful street-legal race sibling to the current Astra VXR.
Shorn of 100kg, thanks to liberal use of high-quality carbon components, the EXTREME’s natural environment will be the race track. If public reaction is as positive as expected, Vauxhall plans a low-volume production run for the EXTREME.
With direct injection and variable camshaft phasing, the EXTREME’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine is the most powerful four-cylinder unit Vauxhall has ever produced. The all-aluminium engine is mated to six-speed manual gearbox transmitting power through a limited-slip differential.
The EXTREME is 100kg lighter than a standard Astra VXR thanks to its high-quality, carbon fibre components. This high-strength, ultra-light material is used for the aerodynamically-optimised rear wing, the diffuser, front spoiler, bonnet, suspension cross-bracing, engine cover, wheels, rear wheelhouse ventilation and roof.
Noticeably lowering the EXTREME’s centre of gravity is the in-house manufactured carbon fibre roof which weighs just 2.6kg, compared with a steel roof’s 9.3kg. The wings are made of aluminium and weigh only 800g a piece instead of 2.2kg in steel. Weight reduction in key areas greatly improves agility, overall handling and the car’s power-to-weight ratio.
Vauxhall has also given the EXTREME exceptional stopping power to match, with a Brembo six-piston brake system including 370mm diameter discs up front race car. Ultra high-performance, 245/35, 19-inch tyres, specially developed for the EXTREME, also play a key role and give almost as much grip as those on the race car. In addition, the damper is adjustable, just like in a real touring car racer.
Inside the EXTREME, the back seats have been taken out and a safety roll bar put in their place. EXTREME also gets Recaro bucket seats, with six-point safety belts from Schroth and a carbon-fibre-reinforced, suede-covered steering wheel with fine yellow decorative stitching.
The Astra VXR is now the best-selling VXR and the UK remains the largest market in Europe for Vauxhall and Opel’s highest powered models.