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First look: HSV reveals VXR Turbo

Four-pot: Aficionados may be shocked to learn of HSV's 2.0-litre future.

HSV unveils an Astra-based VXR Turbo concept, plus its final Monaro-based Coupe GTO

14 Oct 2005

AS GOAUTO revealed in August, HSV has heralded its intentions to step outside the V8 muscle car segment and into the hot hatch arena by unveiling Opel’s storming new Astra OPC as the HSV VXR Turbo concept at Darling Harbour yesterday.

HSV also used Sydney to show its final VZ Monaro-based Coupe GTO, which has arrived in the form of an LE limited-edition (100 units) model featuring 10-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels, black brake callipers, striking bonnet and bootlid paint accents, a build number painted on the bootlid and an "individual rear profile" with the deletion of the usual GTO rear spoiler.

Braking is upgraded to an AP Racing four-piston premium set-up, while interior enhancements include premium dashboard highlights and Bluetooth.

As for the Astra, HSV is using Sydney to test the waters for the imminent release of the turbocharged front-drive three-door before its 2006 release as part of the HSV range.

Far from being just a concept, HSV has made its intention clear that it plans to add the turbocharged four-cylinder coupe to its muscle-bound V8 line-up and will even be taking orders.

VXR is based on the the Astra OPC, which has enjoyed strong sales since its release at the Geneva motor show in March, and would be positioned above Holden’s new 147kW Astra SRi due on sale in January.

VXR is powered by a force-fed 176kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder, mated to a close-ratio six-speed gearbox, delivering a power-to-weight ratio of 6.9kg/kW.

20 center imageAs previously reported, HSV has worked in conjunction with Germany’s Opel Performance Centre for more than 12 months on the VXR project, which takes its name from the UK version as Atra OPC is known as the Vauxhall VXR there.

The car’s handling, refinement and overall driveability has been hailed in Europe and HSV marketing director, Chris Payne believes he can repeat the experience here.

He says the hot hatch could be on sale here in limited numbers next year, with pricing under $43,000.

Apart from the sleek coupe body, the Astra VXR will boast 19-inch alloys, Recaro sports seats, sports instrumentation and stability and traction control aids to keep the power on the black-top.

Mr Payne believes if the Astra VXR is a success, it could lead to some other exciting future products in the HSV stable.

For its part, he believes the VXR has the traditional HSV core values covered.

That means individual styling, class-leading power and torque, powerful brakes, a sports tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels and a sporting interior.

He also believes the car carries with it the same driver-focused, high-performance engineering DNA that you’d find in other HSV products.

"It will be a totally new category for HSV but we wouldn’t be looking at VXR if we weren’t convinced that it’s capable of setting new benchmarks in the hot-hatch class," Mr Payne says.

"Its power-to-weight ratio puts it head to head with class rivals, and this is evident in a 0-100km/h sprint of just over six seconds." The other ingredient to a four-cylinder HSV is that this Astra could introduce a whole new group of people to the HSV brand who’d otherwise have shopped elsewhere.

"It’s an enticing package for those looking for the ultimate in individuality and performance in a compact size and, therefore, could attract buyers from a wide demographic, such as young urban-based singles and couples." It would even make an ideal second HSV in the household, he said.

Before diehard fans collapse in shock at the prospect of a four-cylinder HSV, we’d like to point out that an HSV-inspired Astra isn’t exactly new.

Back in 1988 the Melbourne-based company had a lukewarm dabble in the small car area with the Astra SV1800, essentially a rebadged Nissan Pulsar without any trick engine modifications.

Needless to say, the whole, sad experience has become a forgettable blur on the HSV consciousness as the company has gone on to make its name with powerful and individually styled V8s based on Commodore and Statesman vehicles.

However, this time around HSV is confident this turbocharged 2.0-litre four cylinder will deliver the goods and street credibility necessary for such an enthusiast brand.

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