Fast cars require tight, supportive seats to both secure the driver and prevent fatigue caused by muscle tension as a result of bracing to avoid sliding around.
The new Astra VXR, launched in Europe as both an Opel and Vauxhall model, will be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March. It has front seats that are substantially lighter, thanks to cutting-edge technology, have a lower seating position and enhanced side support to cater for increased cornering loads. In fact, these are claimed to be the first seats in the hot hatch segment to be approved by independent back experts.
The Astra VXR’s new front seat shells are formed using an injection-molding process. This reduces the weight by 45% compared with a conventional shell. The composite material is made from polyamide and fibreglass, and its strength and agility mean it only need be 2-3mm thick and, therefore, much lighter.
Bringing driver and front passenger lower in the Astra VXR’s center of gravity, the new seats are mounted 17mm lower than in the Astra GTC, and 40mm lower than in the regular Astra Hatch.
In addition, the new seats can be adjusted up to 18 ways, depending upon specification: backwards, upwards, backrest forward, seat cushion angle, seat cushion length, four-way lumbar support, adjustable side bolster support in back and in the seat cushion.
Pneumatically adjusted cushions, found in the seat flanks, add further levels of adjustability at the push of a button, and provide ‘tailor-made’ comfort and security normally reserved for competition drivers.
The Astra VXR’s seats are the first in its class to be certified by AGR (Action for Healthy Backs), an independent German organization comprising leading doctors and therapists.
Before they gained approval, the seats had to meet a list of ten criteria, including checks for lordosis support, and that the seatback contours adapt precisely to the natural curvature of the spine.
With 280hp and a top speed of 155mph, the new Astra VXR will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on March 6. Its bespoke chassis, with mechanical limited-slip differential and Brembo brakes, was signed off after a 10,000km test program at the Nürburgring, Nordschleife.