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Vauxhall Astra VXR

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Vauxhall Astra VXR

These are the best shots yet of the fastest Astra ever! The high-performance VXR model looks set to shake-up the hot-hatch market as it goes head-to head with the Focus ST and VW's Golf GTI.

Our spies caught this protoype undergoing winter testing and while it may look like a regular five-door model, look closely and you'll spot the widened track and revised front end, complete with larger air intakes.

That's because under this mule's body lies the new three-door only Astra VXR. Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, the new VXR should put out around 250bhp and 320Nm of torque. That will be good enough for a 0-60mph time of 6 seconds and a top speed of 150mph.

But the newcomer won't just be quick in a straight line. Vauxhall's adaptive FlexRide suspension means drivers can choose to put the car in 'Sport' or 'VXR' mode which will improve throttle response and stiffen the suspension for more agile handling. For a softer ride, drivers can simply push the 'Standard' button.

The finished article will have the visual muscle to match its performance with a coupe-like body, complete with a rakish roofline, ground-hugging body-kit and a large central exhaust pipe replacing the twin exhausts shown here.

Inside, as with the rest of the Astra range, the newcomer gets a totally redesigned cabin with high-quality soft-touch materials will be used, while equipment including a Bluetooth phone connection and an MP3 compatible stereo are set to appear.

The Astra VXR will be publicly unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September this year. Sales will begin in early 2011 starting at around £22,000.

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