Vauxhall is set to challenge the mighty Focus ST with the launch of the Astra GSi. The revival of the GSi badge could hale a more accessible level of performance for fans of the hot hatch while the VXR model can continue getting more bonkers.
The new version of the Astra will be shown off at this year’s Frankfurt motor show in September and should make a showroom appearance by November. However there are no reports of a tuned and styled version being tested in Germany, this is expected to be the new Astra GSi. With a rumoured 250 bhp, some flared wheel arches and twin exhaust pipes it certainly sounds like it will be a launch to look forward too.
Hot Hatch Battle
The popularity of the Focus ST is now well settled with multiple generations taking centre stage in what has always been somewhat of a one-horse race. Renault has always had a hot Megane and Clio but the ST was less track focused and more accessible than these as well as the Vauxhall Astra VXR. This new launch will bring Vauxhall right into Ford’s comfort zone and give people who are looking at a day to day road rocket something very serious to consider. However it is not only Vauxhall who are entering the fray, Peugeot’s new 308 GTi and the SEAT Leon Cupra are also well placed to take a number of customers away from the ST. With very little in power to separate these cars the 90s world of the hot hatch is very much back.
The rumours are that Vauxhall will use the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that is currently powering some of the Insignia range. However, with a trend for making smaller and more highly tuned engines become very strong, they could follow the path of the 308 and beef up a smaller 1.6 power unit. The trend of high power, small engines are becoming a very big one with Ford somewhat leading the charge with their Eco-Boost range. If Vauxhall is going to win this fight they might do well to stick to the smaller engine.
However it turns out, by the time it arrives in our showrooms the new hot Astra will certainly be exciting, and in an age of economy, another frugal yet powerful hot hatch certainly won’t go amiss.