My local dealer got a Vectra VXR and Astra VXR in for me yesterday to test drive as I am wanting to change the car to a fast petrol and I felt these 2 were the only ones that interested me in the Vx range, bar the Monaro! And they couldn't get a VXR one in for my budget
So here's what I thought about them.
The Vectra as you sit in it feels very simular to mine with excellent seats and the first things I notice is the new facelift dashboard. Seems to look better than mine and the VXR clocks just finish it off a treat. Dual climate control as standard plus a few other goodies definetely felt the next model up from mine. Keys in, crank the engine and you can't mistake that pure V6 sound, absolutely beautiful, second only to a V8 in my eyes. Quick blip of the throttle and a nice turbo whistle accompanies it. Could sit there all day doing this, it sounds superb! Love to hear one with a Milltek. Anyway on with the drive, I am on my own and this car has a few thousand miles on it already so I head off to my favourite twisties. First thing I notice is how well the new suspension setup is. It is harsher, but no worse than say a BMW M setup. The V6 2.8 turbo lump moves along swiftly yet smoothly at part throttle. I come out of the local town onto the background and promptly apply some more throttle. The nose lifts, turbo whistles, engine hums sweetly and my ar$e drops. The pickup from 3000rpm is excellent! I have driven many fast cars before, but never one that delivers the power in the way that the 2.8T does. Foot is flat down and I am rapidly changing up through the gears and the speed limit is somewhere behind me as is the Saxo that was badgering me through the town. Coming upto a nice long sweeping S bend with excellent visibility all round, I keep the car around 4000rpm in 4th gear as I go round the corners it feels well balanced and extremely well planted as it snaps from left to right. As I come out of the corner the throttle is reapplied and pickup is instant. Extremely impressed with the engine and chassis so far. The feel of the power doesn't feel as rapid as I thought, but it is certainly pulling hard. I put this down to the good sized V6 engine with a turbo. You won't get such a violent push in the back due to the V6 engine and a medium sized turbo, but it is deceptive. The car is going extremely quickly and it takes some getting used too. I carry on through the back roads pushing it that little bit harder each time. It finally breaks traction on a tight 90 degree bend and proceeds the back end to start drifting. The front suspension is so well setup the back breaks traction before the front which was impressive and also a little fun! Been out in the car for around 45 mins now so I turn around and proceed back towards the dealer having thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Yes it is more fun than my 1.9 CDTi (Remapped) and handles better too. It would easily in the hands of someone who understands how to use the power and how it is delivered in this car, beat a 1.9 CDTi hands down. No contest. Drove back through the village to the dealership and pulled back in.
Verdict - Very smooth power delivery, but deceptively quick. Handling is superb for such a big car and the trim level is up there with the best of them.
I now have the keys to Vauxhall's most hottest hatch..... ever...... Well according to the VXR brochure! This model like the Vectra has the extra 19 inch wheels and is also in Arden Blue. It frankly looks awesome and more aggressive than the Vectra. Open up the car and sit inside the car. First impressions is the interior is more modern than the Vectra, yet more sparse. Missing things like climate control, cruise control and a few other goodies, all which is standard on the Vectra but all optional extras. Seats are excellent again with fantastic support and legroom in what is quite a small car. I am 6ft 5in and fit extremely comfortably in there. Enough with the poncey stuff on with the drive! Key in the ignition and the engine fires up with a very nice purr to the engine, something I wasn't expecting from the 4 cylinder 2.0 turbo unit. Again this car has a few thousand miles on the clock so no worries about giving it a good thrashing to! Pull out of the dealer and again venture through the village. First thing I notice is alot more people are looking at the Astra, and mainly with an enquistive look in their eyes as if they don't understand what it is. Still purring along nicely at 20-30mph as we head through the high street and already I have picked up the local idiot who wants a race. Old Corsa with the 2.0 turbo lump in it as his dump valve is 'proving' to me as he speed up and slows down behind me. We come out from the village into the good ol' back roads and he pulls out to 'show me what he can do'. I had been anticipated this and the VXR was in 3rd gear. Foot flat to the floor and the whole car lifts, the engine start to sing, the turbo whistles and again my ar$e drops. Whoosh, red line, bang into 4th, 5th and into 6th the acceleration of the car is totally different to the Vectra being alot harsher. You feel the turbo pushing you back and it feels brutal. It feels good! My this time I was approaching my favorite S bend corners and I suddenley remember ol' Barry in the Corsa. Quick glance in the rear view mirror and he is nowhere to be seen. This new 2.0 Turbo lump from Vx with it's close ratio gearbox is truly a fantastic combination. The Corsa most likely has around 200bhp but compared to this 240bhp engine and the way the power is delivered in the Astra just left it. Now this isn't a remarkable achievements by any means but it still gives you the satisfaction of showing some idiot who is boss! Approaching the bends again and the Astra feels so throwable through the corners balanced on the throttle. As your throw it left to right it is just does it, no fuss, no complaints. I exit the S bend with full throttle and we are off again. I am frankly shocked by the Astra, I knew it would be good, but not this good. It drives SO well, the chassis is alot stiffer than Vectra and feeds back more to the driver. It feels quicker but again this is down to the power delivery of this 2.0 engine. I forgot this car was front wheel drive, it doesn't handle like it at all and is so throwable it is truly fun. Suddlenley with a time check 45 mins is up and I turn around back to the dealership. Proceding back through the village Barry is parked up with his mates and his 16 year old girlfriends and music on full toot. I gently cruise by and give them a cheeky wave, and I get one back from them all. Good to see a bit of respect for once!
Verdict - Revvy, throwable, and frankly just awesome.
What one would I get then? Astra EVERY time. It was more fun, the revvy 4 pot engine was more raw for me and I felt the car gave me more feedback than the Vectra. I wish it came as fully loaded as the Vectra, but then again the 'lower' car in the Vx fleet would then have more options than the flagship. The Vectra was awesome, but not for me. I loved the V6 engine and what a beast that would be in the Astra, but the chassis wasn't as good as the Astra by a long shot.
Those were my findings on the cars back to back, and mine alone. Some people won't agree with me, but just incase anyone was interested I thought I would post my amateur review!