Vauxhall Astra tuning.

"Truly ASTRAnomical power"

The Vauxhall Astra was introduced way back in 1979 known across europe as the Kadette.

Today it has become very popular car as it is cheap to run with many parts available.

Vauxhall provided a wide range of engine options from a base engine of 1200cc up to a lively 2.0 turbo engine.

The Astra later gave inspiration for a GTC sports coupe, based on an all new design and spec.

Popular with young drivers we see an ever growing parts catalogue of aftermarket parts, some are very impressive and others leave much to be desired.

It was very popular in the UK and enjoyed success in Europe under the Opal badge.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Handling modifications are often a priority for the Astra. We would go to a maximum drop of 35mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

The original mark 1 was much smaller than the modern Astra, being similar in size to the current Corsa. The 1.3 engines were lively and cheap to insure but the SR and GTE were the models of choice.

The Mark 2 model in 1984 saw a complete restyle which was radical. Rear visibility has been criticised but overall was a good package and the 2.0 GTE still outperforms many modern cars.

The Mark 3 and 4 models looked very similar as Vauxhall decided that they shouldn't change a winning formula. The hot hatch of choice was now badged SRi and GSi where in 1995 the suspension received attention from Lotus.

The Mark 6 was launched in 2009 and ran until 2015, it enjoyed strong sales and met with good reviews.

The Mark 7 launched in 2015 which was lighter than the previous models by around 200 kg's improving handling, performance and economy. The noteworthy model is the stunning 280bhp Astra VXR,

Vauxhall Astra tuning tips, a great little car and base for a tuning project.

Sadly there is no easy way to increase the performance of the very early carb fed 1.4 and smaller engine sizes.  The later fuel injected 'hi torque version' was built for economy and will feel very under powered so you would certainly want to change the intake,cams and exhaust on that model).

Most Astra engines will benefit from a fast road cam, mated to an induction kit and free flowing sports exhaust. On smaller engine the improvements from the latter two are debatable but on the larger 1.6 and 2.0 engines  the gains are noticeable.

A lot can be done to enhance the handling of the Astra although the GTE and SRi models and later VXR badged cars have very good suspension as standard. We would recommend lowering the Astra (no more than 40 millimetres) and fitting fully adjustable springs and dampers.

Poly bushings, negative camber (0.5-1.2 degrees) and a little toe out will do much to sharpen up the handling on the Astra.

Getting the right tuning modifications for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport parts just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Stage 1 mods: Lighter flywheel, Sports exhaust, Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Panel air filter, Remap.

Stage 2 mods: high flow fuel injector, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head, Power/Sport clutch.

Stage 3 mods: Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Engine balancing, Competition cam, Sports gearbox.

You need to keep as much low end power as you can and aim to get a wide power band rather than a narrow top end power spike.

Engine swaps are always popular with Torquecars members and Vauxhall engine seem to be very interchangeable. And Engine swap seems to be the most cost effective way of increasing the power with drivers looking to the higher powered Astra models for suitable donors. TorqueCars have a MK1 owner who has successfully fitted a v6 engine and the new 2 litre Turbo.

The SRI, GTE, GSi and VXR models are undoubtedly the hot hatch performers of choice and this would benefit from an induction kits, for sports exhaust, FSE fuel pressure boost valve and fast road cams.

With the 280bhp Astra VXR, we would recommend an ecu remap and induction kit to release a little extra power making it a truly special car, but traction does start to become an issue so make sure you spec really good tyres. Adding a better differential would go a long way to address the traction issues.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Induction kits are only beneficial to increase performance if the cars air intake is struggling! Adding an induction kit to most standard engines will see NO POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction. Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for Astra engines you should go with a high performance panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

Sports exhausts increase the flow of gases through the engine. But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the exhaust flow rate and end up losing power and torque.

Getting the head polished and ported will help get more air into each cylinder. This is definitely a job for a professional with a flow bench. A good multi plate fast road uprated clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never cut corners or expect the standard OEM clutch to cope. Turbo engines are just asking to be Remapped. You will see significant power gains on most modern turbo charged cars including diesels making a remap one of the most cost effective and significant modifications for your money.

We've also come across some owners toying with twin charging applications and making some seriously high power figures.

The most phenomenal power gains for NASP engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. Superchargers are often easier to add than turbos. With a turbo the power curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it harder to map.

It is simpler to map a supercharger because the boost is directly proportional to engine speed on a linear curve. Alternatively you could install water injection to minimise knock.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling via the extra air flow they allow. Please note that although they can look cool on the Astra large alloys will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

Although some people have with bigger wheels we would stick to a 17 inch rim size as the maximum, but later models seem quite at home on 18's but we prefer the handling and ride quality of the 17's.

Please join our forum to discuss tuning options and ideas with our other TorqueCars members who have Astras and browse our tuning articles around the site. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Vauxhall tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which mods work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these articles which are continually updated.


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Your Constructive comments on this article

One Response to “Tuning the Vauxhall Astra”

  1. Kamal says:

    Good encouragement to start a tuning project

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