This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Vauxhall Astra VXR (12-15) review.

Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

The 2.0-litre four cylinder engine is turbocharged to produce 240bhp and it certainly performs strongly with a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds – around half a second quicker than a Ford Focus ST. Unfortunately the power delivery can be quite sudden which means the VXR relies heavily on its traction control system to stop the front wheels spinning under hard acceleration.

The throttle response isn’t very smooth either, which doesn’t help matters. All this adds up to make the VXR feel quite hard edged compared to other performance hatchbacks. One curious feature of the engine is the sound it makes which Vauxhall claims is the result of acoustic tuning. A suction-like noise can be heard from the exhaust when the engine is delivering maximum turbo boost (when its being driven hard) but it sounds strange rather than sporty.

There is a limit to how much power can be fed through the front wheels of a car – too much and the steering wheel can tug in your hands and the front of the car start to wander. This occurs in the VXR especially when the road is wet or slippery. It isn’t enough to cause a problem, but it does need you to really concentrate when driving fast particularly on bumpy roads.

A set of very large brakes copes well when it comes to slowing things down and inspire confidence, and a stability control system keeps things tidy on the corners. The VXR is good in corners with very little body roll and plenty of grip, so it’s a shame it’s let down by artificial-feeling steering.