The later 80s and early 90s saw the rise to prominence of the ‘hot hatch’, a term used to define small, relatively inexpensive cars, always hatchbacks, that have a disproportionate amount of horsepower for their frame, and are known to provide a brutal ride. The 1988 Vauxhall Astra 16V was one of the contenders for the crown, and for a little while it looked like it would take it. Auto critiques were tired of the sharp lines of the Golf GTI Mk2, and were happy to see the rounder Astra 16V, with its integrated mirrors, high tail and smooth bumpers. Unfortunately, smooth bumpers do not a hot hatch make, and other considerations weighed down the Astra 16V, particularly its tendency to torque-steer and the fact that it didn’t offer the most comfortable ride, even for a hot hatch.
The Astra 16V was powered by a smooth and very torquey 16-valve, four cylinder engine with a displacement of almost exactly 2 liters. It produced an impressive 156 horsepower, which in such a small car, gave it predictably brutal and fun performance. The top speed was 131 miles per hour, while the 0-60 acceleration time was roughly 7 seconds.
In it once again quite unfortunate that the Astra 16V wasn’t nearly as polished mechanically as it was visually. The 1988 Vauxhall Astra 16V suffered from its lack of handling and from being a little bit too vague at high speed, and was cancelled in 1991 after only 3 years.