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Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Turbo SRi FlexRide
5/10

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Road Test

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Turbo SRi FlexRide

Driven January 2010

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Until the VXR arrives, this 1.6-litre turbo is the fastest way you can get to 60mph in a Vauxhall Astra - 7.9 seconds. It does so with a fine engine that produces 178bhp and 170lb ft of torque, plenty of poke for a warm hatch. It's a smooth ride and, other than a keen taste for petrol, it's a relaxing bit of kit. Lovely.

But what we're really here to review is the £425 optional ‘FlexRide'. Now, FlexRide might sound like apparatus you'd procure from a shop with blacked-out windows, but it's less interesting than that. It essentially allows you to change suspension settings between ‘Normal', ‘Tour' and ‘Sport'. There's not much between Normal and Tour, although at least neither ruin the ride. Switch it to Sport, however, and the throttle sharpens, the ride hardens and the whole experience deteriorates, because this isn't a supercar at the Nürburgring. The sense of novelty is heightened by the fact that, when you switch to Sport, the backlighting in the binnacles changes to red. You are now, God forbid, driving a ‘hero car'. Except you're not, you're being shafted by a marketing gimmick.

Piers Ward

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