I may have bought a hot hatch by accident
And it is a diesel
I had been looking for a new car for a couple of years, however as a broke university student I had enough savings to buy something slow and boring or going for a car I actually liked and starve to death. I needed a newer car than my Mk4 Golf and one that is the same size so it turns out I had spent 2 years looking at the Astra VXR /Astra OPC for EU citizens/ however every time I looked at the price of one of those I realised that in order to buy it and run it on a daily basis I need to sell one of my internal organs. I went to have a look at and possibly purchase another Golf, albeit with the 1.8T engine. That car was a complete dog and I had travelled all day without air con to go and have a look. Imagine my face at the end of that day if you wish.
The hatchback I was dreaming of buying. /Image from Wikipedia by Thomas Doerfer/
By this point I hope you begin to understand how much I wanted a hot hatch but how much I could never save up for a real one. I did not really want a diesel as well to be fair as they are quite expensive to service compared to the performance they give. Reluctantly I started looking at a 1.6 Petrol Astra that would have been LPG converted, I thought that I deserved the misery of life in the slow lane. At least it would be inexpensive misery.
An ordinary grey Astra with a 1.6 /Image from Wikipedia by M 93/
It was then I remembered there was the 1.9 CDTI Astra which I had come across. I did my research and it turned out that servicing that would cost half what it does on my Mk4 TDI Golf. A good start indeed, what next though? I went looking for such an Astra, for 4 months I was looking for a good one. However they were either way overpriced or they were complete scrap. Then one day I found the one. The paint was dreadful, but it had a full service history and the 150 bhp engine.
This was the first time I was going to drive the 1.9 Astra, because with all the others I had seen I did not even bother to test drive them. I sat in this one and it felt so much quieter than my older car, put it in to gear and was quite surprised by how much power it had. The brakes were great and handling was great too. 10 minutes later I had paid for the car and was on my way home when I discovered a "SPORT" button, press that and it makes the car so much more responsive. It doesn't provide more power but makes the throttle much more sensitive and makes the steering just a bit heavier.
I got the GTC version which is the 3 door hatchback and in my eyes it looks fantastic. I am aware it is not the full on VXR/OPC look but trust me if I had the income I would go for the top end in a heartbeat, however with this article I am trying to say that for me cheap and cheerful was possible. In fact I love it so much that I have already started thinking about modifications.
The "Built not bought" part of the journey
I have replaced the factory radio with the factory sat nav unit and colour screen. I have bought a very rare but fantastic looking rear bumper as well as side skirts. I got the VXR/OPC style leather steering wheel and rear spoiler. These bits I will fit after I get the car resprayed next year. And before you start thinking that it is all cosmetics I am worried about I would like to assure you that when I save up I will be looking in to bigger brakes both front and rear, a stiffer rear anti roll bar to cut down on body roll and a remap.
My useless verdict
Trust me on this or mock me if you wish, but I do consider the Astra H 1.9 CDTI 150 bhp to be a genuine hot hatch. It may not be very hot by todays standards but my car was originally manufactured in 2006. The original Golf GTI won't be very hot today but it was back in its day. So if we can call that one hot, I think the Astra can be as well, or at least warm. On the motorway it is a good and relaxing drive, the 6 gears and the cruise control make it comfortable and economical, then you get to a back road and the 150 bhp and sport button help you get the most out of the sleek look of the the thing. However I think there is more in there. I think that the performance modifications I am planning on doing will make the car a genuine little brother to the big and bad as you like VXR.
My old car and my new car
Opinion time! Vote in the poll or share your thoughts in the comments section!
P.S. I know diesels sound like tractors, but it mens I can drive a reasonably quick car on a budget.