Opel Astra OPC Review

By: Nathan Ponchard

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Driven: GM's German tuning outfit rises to the hot-hatch challenge

Opel Astra OPC Review
Driven: Opel Astra OPC

 

Opel Astra OPC

If the Insignia on the previous spread sounds a little too mature for your performance tastes, then the Astra OPC will more than make up for it.

Based on the already-impressive Astra GTC coupe, the OPC version takes what that car has and amps it up to about 17. Out goes the perky 132kW/230Nm turbo 1.6, replaced by a storming 2.0-litre direct-injection four with a new twin-scroll turbocharger and a serious 1.5 bar (21.75psi) of boost pressure.

The engine’s vital stats are enough to make old-school V8s cry. Power has skyrocketed to 206kW at 5300rpm, while torque is a huge 400Nm across a plateau spanning 2400 to 4800rpm. Only Ford’s now-superseded Focus RS could beat those numbers (224kW/440Nm), but it needed another 500cc to do it. And if Opel’s acceleration claims are to be believed, rivals like the Renaultsport Megane 265 (195kW/360Nm) and even Volkswagen’s forthcoming Mk7 Golf GTI with Performance Pack (169kW/350Nm) will be flailing in its wake.

Thanks to the torque-steer-quelling geometry of its HiPerStrut front (see Insignia OPC for an explanation) and the power-down benefit of a proper mechanical LSD, Opel says the OPC Astra will hit 100km/h in six-dead. Judging by our track thrash around Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway, there’s no reason why this hot Astra shouldn’t blaze a path to the top.

The six-speed manual requires a little patience so it doesn’t beat the synchros when quickly grabbing gears, but the engine never quits. It mixes a strong bottom end and a massive mid-range with the top-end fizz that eluded this car’s predecessor (HSV’s Astra VXR). You can hear the induction process snarling away sweetly, but it’s the hardcore whooshing from the rear pipes that dominates proceedings. It’s like listening to Darth Vader orgasm.

Best part, though, is that the Astra OPC’s chassis is more than up to the task of channelling all that grunt. Compared to the 1.6T GTC, the OPC version sits 10mm lower on 30-percent-stiffer springs, the three-setting Sachs dampers have been retuned, the bushes stiffened, and the compound-crank back axle has a much higher rate. Add the sizeable Pirelli P Zero 245/35R20 tyres fitted to our test car (a grand option over the standard 19s) and it’s no wonder the Astra OPC never stops giving.

It doesn’t quite have the pull into a corner like the hot Renault does, but the Astra is a cracking drive. Power-down is superb, mid-corner speed is deeply impressive, and the adjustment from the back end to keep the nose pointed is great stuff.

Whether all this translates to an epic drive on the road I can’t say, but reports are the Astra OPC somehow manages to ride well too. Add the same brakes as the much-heavier Insignia OPC and this smokin’-hot Astra has all the ingredients of a new hot-hatch celebrity. At $42,990, loaded to the eyeballs with kit, it can’t fail.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Opel Astra OPC

 

Engine: 1998cc 4cyl, DOHC, 16v, turbocharger

Power: 206kW @ 5300rpm

Torque: 400Nm @ 2400-4800rpm

Weight: 1494kg

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

0-100 Km/h: 6.0sec (claimed)

Top speed: 250km/h (limited)

Price: $42,990

 

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