Start with a Vauxhall/Opel/Chevrolet/Saturn Astra VXR, shed 100 kg by replacing metal with carbon fiber, then pump its 2.0-liter turbo engine to 297 hp (221.5 kW), upgrade the suspension wheels, tires, gearbox and brakes to cope with the stresses, and you have the Astra VXR Extreme ... and it's street legal.
The Astra VXR Extreme has been derived from last year’s Astra Cup race car that competed in the Nürburgring Endurance Championship, with much of the knowledge gained in racing under such extreme conditions lavished on the aptly named Extreme.
The use of significant amounts of carbon fiber has relieved the VXR of 100 kg (220 lb), which is remarkable in itself as the VXR weighs 1,230 kg (2,712 lb), and the VXR Extreme weighs 1,130 kg, so that's a sizable percentage of body weight to shed.
More importantly though, it's where that weight has been shed that has helped the Extreme become far more stable when changing direction. The steel roof of the VXR weighs 9.3 kg (20.5 lb), while the Extreme's carbon roof weighs 2.6 kg (5.7 lb). The wings are made of aluminum and weigh 800 g (1.8 lb) each, instead of 2.2 kg (4.9 lb) for the steel units they replace.
Carbon is also used for the rear wing, the diffuser, front spoiler, bonnet, suspension cross-bracing, engine cover, wheels and rear wheelhouse ventilation, and with many of those components in the top half of the car, the center of gravity has been lowered significantly, in addition to the obvious improvements in power-to-weight.
The Extreme’s 2.0-liter turbo petrol engine employs direct injection and variable camshaft phasing, and drives through a six-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip differential.
The brakes are Brembo six-piston calipers gripping 370 mm discs up front, while the high-performance, 245/35, 19-inch tires, were developed specifically for the Extreme. Suspension damping is also adjustable.
The Extreme's interior is, as one might suspect, spartan. The rear seats have been removed and a safety roll bar installed. The Extreme also gets the full race interior with Recaro racing seats, a six-point harness from Schroth and a carbon-fiber-reinforced, suede-covered steering wheel.
Vauxhall plans a low-volume production run for the Extreme, pending public reaction at the Geneva Motor Show which opens eight days from now.
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