If you’ve ever felt that GM has failed to reach its full potential with American consumers (I almost laughed when I typed that), you will likely feel validated in that belief to learn about the British performance version of the Saturn Astra. The Vauxhaull Astra VXR has added a few numbers to both it’s name and horsepower courtesy of Triple Eight Engineering.
Beyond the special body treatment, differences between this speed demon and the factory diesel version are most significantly achieved by retuning the engine to develop 50 more horses. Other uprades include a lowered and stiffened suspension, larger front disc brakes, four-piston calipers and special 18-inch black alloys wheels and tires. 0-60 mph is estimated to take 6.5 seconds in the VRX 888 with a top speed of more than 140mph. Perhaps most impressive is the fuel economy which is estimated as close to 50 mpg in normal highway driving and certainly in the 40 mpg in the city. Additionally, owners of gas versions of the VRX can not only benefit from the brake and suspension upgrades previously mentioned for the diesel, but get in on the power increase as well via an exhaust package by the aftermarket company Remus and/or a specially tuned Triple Eight ECU that coaxes an extra 48 horsepower from the Astra’s normal 2 liter engine. In total, Triple Eight is able to bring the total power of the gas burner to a jaw dropping 305 hp!
Although Triple Eight will only make 100 of these vehicles, nearly every component will be available for owners to upgrade their Vauxhall at special dealerships in Britain. It would be refreshing if GM would foster the same relationship over here that it has developed in other parts of the world to revitalize a degree of excitement that it is surely lacking in entry-level vehicles. While everyone froths at the mouth over the Volt and the fuel efficiency that is the centerpiece of its worth, the VRX tuned by Triple Eight proves what is capable with existing technology and cars already on the road. One can only hope that more enterprising person(s) will continue to take it upon themselves to disprove the notion that vehicle gas mileage and performance are mutually exclusive in new cars.