RE: PH Blog: Astra timeline

RE: PH Blog: Astra timeline

Monday 11th June 2012

PH Blog: Astra timeline

With a new VXR on the way it's worth taking a look at how the hot hatch Griffin got here



Pity the fast Astra. In four generations, history and journalists have not been kind to the poor Vauxhall hot hatch.

Mk1 was a short-lived car
Mk1 was a short-lived car
Ever since the first Astra GTE appeared in the early 1980s, Vauxhall's offering has been the perennial bridesmaid, the also-ran in many a hot hatch battle. Opel and Vauxhall know this, though, and the new Astra VXR, despite being the most powerful front-drive Vauxhall ever, has had some serious engineering thrown at it. We're at Rockingham today to find out just whether Vauxhall can consign the fast-but-unruly rep of the Astra to history - and we'll tell you whether it's succeeded or not on PH soon - but for now it's worth taking a quick look back at some of the new car's ancestors.

Mk1
The Mk1 GTE certainly doesn't fit the mould of the uncouth fast Vauxhall. In fact it's a bit of a forgotten gem. When was the last time you saw one on the road, for example? Quite - and yet you'll see plenty of 205 GTIs and Golf GTIs on the road (though perhaps not so many Escort XR3is).

Second GTE was quick - joyriders loved it
Second GTE was quick - joyriders loved it
Despite the glitzy white wheels, it's a more sophisticated thing than you'd perhaps credit, handling with some aplomb and with a 1.8-litre fuel-injected engine good for 115hp. It was only on sale for around a year or two before the swoopy aerodynamic Mk2 arrived.

Mk2
Of all the fast Astras, perhaps only the Mk2 GTE 16v, with its 150hp power output and consequent susceptibility to theft by the joyriding community, really got to sit with the rest of the gods on whatever the hot hatch version of Mount Olympus is. And even then its reputation was built more on slightly lairy power then anything in the way of finesse, though it more than deserves its place as a PH hero for that alone.

Mk3 GSi was, erm, not brilliantly received
Mk3 GSi was, erm, not brilliantly received
Mk3
This is perhaps the car that got the Astra its rep. Blessed with a solid 150hp from its 2.0-litre motor, it was always quick, but despite the power from the 16-valve 'redtop', and the involvement of Lotus with the handling, the GSi (as it was now badged) was just too stodgy to be considered a hot hatch contender.

And the others...
Vauxhall did of course produce a 200hp turbocharged GSi version of the Mk4 but, umm, we didn't have any of those to photograph. Nor, curiously, did we have an Astra VXR, the new car's direct predecessor.

Vauxhall has high hopes for new VXR
Vauxhall has high hopes for new VXR
But that car's fast-but-unruly reputation is what brings us to the latest Astra VXR, a car that now carries a history of wild-but-fun hot hatches on its shoulders with a Drexler limited-slip diff, trick HiPer Strut suspension and a whopping 280hp. Has GM finally tamed its wild-child hot hatch? We'll find out soon...I for one just hope it hasn't gotten too sophisticated.

Riggers

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Author
Discussion

REDALERT

Original Poster:

5 posts

98 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
they have always been poor in class compared to competition,new one should be a far better bet write ups on standard car are quite good.

Dr Imran T

2,269 posts

155 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
Shame they get such a hard time. Latest one looks great. I hope it does well.

nosuchuser

780 posts

172 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
MK1 GTE please..

Even though I spent my formative years in Pugs, always had a soft spot for the mk1's.. cloud9




(But I'd want a turbo on it now)

ukaskew

6,047 posts

177 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
That Mk1 is gorgeous.

It's been said a million times, but it's amazing how alike the hot versions of the Astra, Megane (and to a lesser extent the Focus) look now. Surely crash regs etc aren't that restrictive?

CHIEF

2,270 posts

238 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
Seriously, doesn't the new one look absolutely amazing?


M666 EVO

1,120 posts

118 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
Didn't they do some sort of special edition Mk2 as well? A turbo version? Or 16v?

swifthobo

869 posts

126 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
mk3 please always liked them.

s m

19,448 posts

159 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
M666 EVO said:
Didn't they do some sort of special edition Mk2 as well? A turbo version? Or 16v?
Champion

Alfa159Ti

764 posts

113 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
As a young chav just out on the road, the Mk2 and Mk3 Astra GTE/ GSi were considered hot stuff for me and my boy racer mates at 18.

Always had a soft spot for both ever since, though have never driven either. Probably for the best as I recall the MK3 Astra GSi being voted as the worst handling hot hatch ever in some poll or other!

I had a Corsa GSi at the time these cars were big. Rose tinted specs tell me that was a quick little thing that actually handled pretty well, so I guess it was natural to lust over its big bro, the Astra GSi, despite its flaws.

theJT

287 posts

141 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
I'm not sure if it's just 80s nostalgia on my part, but that MK1 looks absolutely brilliant now.

thewheelman

2,194 posts

129 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
Can't say any of the performance Astras ever floated my boat. Although I did see a MK1 GTE a while back, & it did look immaculate.

AndyBrew

2,760 posts

175 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
I had a silver mk1 A655 VMW it was my first car, bought the first one I saw, and other than discovering it had no spare wheel I absolutely loved it, good memories!

Bezza1969

777 posts

104 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
The Mk3 GSI is unfairly maligned. My mate had one and it was a very rapid car in a straightline...the problem was the traction control system. It was an early system and cut in way too early when you got on the power too soon. In terms of outright grip, the GSI was as grippy as anything from 1992, which lets face it must be the worst period in the history of the hot hatch.

I have fond memories of the Mk2. my cousin had an early one (1.8) and I remember in 1990 caning it down Keevil Airfield up to 112 MPH, 3 up. We were given really dirty looks by the local gliding fraternity!

New car looks nice!

HorneyMX5

4,734 posts

106 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
The MKII was pretty hand in the BTCC taking the class championship in 89 wiping the floor with the Golf GTIs which just could not compete on the power stakes.

Nick

MonkeyMatt

5,940 posts

163 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
Bezza1969 said:
The Mk3 GSI is unfairly maligned. My mate had one and it was a very rapid car in a straightline...the problem was the traction control system. It was an early system and cut in way too early when you got on the power too soon. In terms of outright grip, the GSI was as grippy as anything from 1992, which lets face it must be the worst period in the history of the hot hatch.

I have fond memories of the Mk2. my cousin had an early one (1.8) and I remember in 1990 caning it down Keevil Airfield up to 112 MPH, 3 up. We were given really dirty looks by the local gliding fraternity!

New car looks nice!
My mk3 GSi was the worst car I have ever owned and Ive had a Metro!

Cotty

34,983 posts

240 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
theJT said:
I'm not sure if it's just 80s nostalgia on my part, but that MK1 looks absolutely brilliant now.
When I was younger and these were fairly common I wanted a Mk1 SR, as I could not afford the insurance on the GTE. I ended up wth a Mk3 Escort, which was pretty similar in its straight edge styling, FWD, 2 door and hatch configuration.

davepoth

29,395 posts

155 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
Pity you didn't line them up side by side to show how vast the new one is.

MH82

210 posts

151 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
I was always in the Ford camp (still am) and I wasn't keen on the Vauxhalls, but I now appreciate a good mk1/mk2 and even the mk3 although don't see many mk3's at all

thebigmacmoomin

2,535 posts

125 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
Dad used to have a Mk1 & white Mk2 GTE (Reg: B431EAK) & an Mk1 special edition (ESP or something like that) before I was born (1986). Got rid of the Mk2 after a year to buy a new D-reg Sierra as it was more buggy friendly.

thewheelman

2,194 posts

129 months

Monday 11th June 2012
quotequote all
MonkeyMatt said:
Bezza1969 said:
The Mk3 GSI is unfairly maligned. My mate had one and it was a very rapid car in a straightline...the problem was the traction control system. It was an early system and cut in way too early when you got on the power too soon. In terms of outright grip, the GSI was as grippy as anything from 1992, which lets face it must be the worst period in the history of the hot hatch.

I have fond memories of the Mk2. my cousin had an early one (1.8) and I remember in 1990 caning it down Keevil Airfield up to 112 MPH, 3 up. We were given really dirty looks by the local gliding fraternity!

New car looks nice!
My mk3 GSi was the worst car I have ever owned and Ive had a Metro!
Really? We're they that bad?