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By 12 February 2013 | Categories: news

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Opel, the German arm of General Motors (GM), is no stranger to delivering hatchbacks whose posters have donned the walls of South African boy racers, thanks to evocative cars the likes of the Opel Big Boss and Kadett Superboss. More recently though, its more civilised (but boring) GSi models have not exactly had hot hatch rivals quaking in their tires.

GM Africa is looking to remedy this situation by adding Opel’s top performance Astra OPC (Opel Performance Centre) to its passenger vehicle range here in South Africa. The Astra OPC is the most powerful production Astra the company has produced to date, powered by a turbocharged direct injection 2.0 litre engine offering up 206 kW at 5500 RPM and 400 Nm of torque between 2500 and 4500 RPM.

Buyers in the market for a high performance option in both the small and compact hatch sectors, will be able to rocket from standstill to 100 km/h in just six seconds flat and go on to reach an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (hopefully just on a racetrack or privately owned road). Despite the potent performance kick, fuel consumption is reduced by 12% compared to the previous model at around 8.1 litres per 100 km on a combined cycle.

 
Underneath the easy-on-the-eyes exterior lurks an easy-on-the-ears turbocharged 2.0 litre powerplant.

Sporty chassis bite to back up the powerful engine bark

Key elements that support the powerful engine and contributes to the vehicle’s dynamics include a high performance chassis that sports Opel’s FlexRide system; high performance struts (HiPerStruts) on the front suspension; limited slip differential to inhibit wheelspin; and Brembo brakes.

According to Opel, the FlexRide chassis system allows the driver to change fundamental handling characteristics of the Astra OPC, providing one with a choice of three different driving modes that each offer variations in the degree of shock absorber action, steering feel and throttle response.

The Standard mode provides a good all-round balance between comfort and performance for everyday motoring, whilst the Sport mode stiffens up the suspension, boosts agility by decreasing body roll, and deliver a more direct steering action to make the steering sharper. Finally, there is the ultimate driving experience for the Astra OPC, dubbed OPC mode, which makes the steering even more direct, the throttle more responsive and shakes your fillings loose by maximising the stiffening of the suspension settings to bring about an uncompromised handling performance, according to Opel at least.

In addition to these three FlexRide chassis modes, the driver also has access to three modes for the Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), with a Standard mode providing the maximum level of ride safety for everyday motoring conditions. When the Competitive mode is engaged, all the electronic driving aids will take longer before they kick-in (and spoil the fun), while the third mode is ESP-off, which deactivates the ESP system completely and places the driver in complete control of the vehicle.
 
Unicolour interior may be a bit too somber for a lot of people...except maybe for All Blacks fans.

Power and speed emphasized in the design

With all this sporty tech, the design of the Astra OPC needs to reflect its powerful powerplant and dynamic handling characteristics, and Opel has set out to achieve this by giving the exterior a “sculpted aero treatment.”

The German auto company has build on the already sporty appearance of the Astra GTC, with the exterior characterised by 20" forged alloy rims, low side skirts, an aerodynamic roof spoiler as well as two fully integrated trapezoidal shaped exhaust tailpipes.
 
From now on, White Lightning will refer to something other than Allan Donald.

Inside the car, the cockpit features a motorsport-inspired, flat bottom steering wheel with sculpted thumb areas for optimised grip and visibility of the instruments, as well as lightweight performance type bucket seats. For the South African market the Astra OPC is offered with the high-performance seat as standard equipment, which offers up to 18 different settings and sporting a seat shell constructed out of cutting-edge weight saving materials.

According to Opel, this makes the Astra OPC the first vehicle in the compact high performance segment to offer pneumatically adjustable cushions in the flanks of the seat. The Astra OPC is trimmed that features a full leather upholstery with exclusive OPC stitching in arden blue or cool pearl to augment the sporty look and feel for the interior.

Pricing (incl. VAT and carbon tax) for the Opel Astra OPC comes to an exclusive R435 000. This nets buyers a five year or 90 000 km service plan plus a five year or 120 000 km warranty.

In other car related news, check out our Top 5 mid-size executive saloons here.

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