Vijay Pattni26 February 2014

297bhp Vauxhall Astra VXR is here

Fetch the straitjacket: bonkers-quick Astra Extreme has landed, and it wants to race

This is the new Vauxhall Astra VXR Extreme, and it is the most powerful front-wheel-drive Vauxhall in history.

Whether that sentence sends you into shivers of fear or spasms of delight rather depends on whether you regard near-misses with hedges as a good thing or a bad thing.

This yet-hotter Astra VXR is derived from last year's Astra Cup car, which competed in the Nürburgring Endurance Championship (the excellently named Bonk Motorsport taking top honours last season), and is a one-off, production ready concept car set for the Geneva Motor Show. It's also a lightweight, track-honed face-melter.

That all-aluminium, 2.0-litre turbo engine has been gently modified to produce just short of 300 horses - 297bhp, to be precise - running through the front wheels, making it the most powerful four-cylinder engine Vauxhall has ever built.

There's a six-speed manual on board, with a limited slip differential on the front axle attempting to dictate power delivery. Good luck with that, lil' fella. In the regular VXR the ‘standard' 276bhp is good for a 0-62mph time of 5.9s. We suspect it shall be faster in this.

The Extreme is also 100kg lighter, thanks to the rear wing, diffuser, front spoiler, bonnet, suspension cross-bracing, engine cover, wheels, rear wheelhouse ventilation and roof all being constructed of carbon fibre.

In fact, the roof weighs just 2.6kg, the wings are made of aluminium and weigh 800g each, and the car comes with monster 370mm brakes on the front.

There are ultra-sticky 19-inch tyres that Vauxhall reckons are as grippy as those on the race car. Dampers are adjustable too.

Step inside and you'll notice the rear seats have been ripped out, replaced by a safety roll bar. Then you'll spot the Recaro buckets up front, six-point safety harnesses, a carbon-fibre reinforced steering wheel and some yellow stitching.

Yes, it's a one-off, but if received well, Vauxhall is planning on a very low-volume production run for the Astra VXR Extreme. Watch out, Golf R. And Britain's hedgerows.

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