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Opel’s Astra OPC a witblitz bähnstormer

16.02.2015

THE Opel Astra OPC has been with us for a while now so why drive it again? Well, Opel has fitted it with a new infotainment system and a new colour LCD screen replaces the older, one-colour screen. You use the big dial to select options and the smaller one to adjust the volume. Well, that’s all you need to know about the new radio so let’s move on to what this car is really about, the drive…

For starters, the Astra OPC definitely looks the part. I maintain that it’s the best-looking out of all the current hot hatches. Front and rear bumpers, side skirts, an aerodynamic roof spoiler and two fully integrated trapezoidal-shaped exhaust tail pipes define the external shape of the Astra OPC, with its base-shape derived from the Astra GTC. Wheel rims are 20-inch forged alloy for an added statement of performance.

The driver’s cockpit is defined by the flat-bottom steering wheel and lightweight performance type bucket seats. Thumb areas are sculpted into the steering wheel for optimized grip and visibility of the instruments.

This Astra - as with most hot hatches available today - is fighting for the Golf GTIs throne. In order to do that, this OPC has been given a 206kW turbocharged direct injection 2.0-litre engine with 400Nm of torque. This enables the Astra OPC to sprint from 0-100km/h in just six seconds with an electrically governed top speed of 250km/h. Sure, the Golf R and BMW135i produce the same sort of power, which should mean the Opel competes with them. However, those are rather expensive compared to the Astra, so I’ve decided to group them according to pricing.

The Astra doesn’t ride as soft as the GTI but, then again, it is performance focused. It’s designed to get around corners as fast as possible and it does. On a track or mountain pass, my money would be on the OPC. In a way, the OPC and Mégane RS Cup are very similar in their set up.

Getting all the OPCs power to the road, requires some fancy mechanical wizardry. Opel has fitted a limited slip differential, which ensures that the maximum torque possible is transferred to the road with the minimum of traction loss and wheelspin.

Do I have some issues with the car? Yes. For starters, you can’t snap-change to second without grinding some gears and yes, the ride is slightly on the hard side. It’s also very low, so catching on speed humps is inevitable.

Does the GTI have to be afraid? Yes and no. The GTI appeals to a wider range of customers, whereas the OPC is directed at the enthusiast.

I really do fancy the new OPC. It looks every bit the part of a serious hot hatch. It’s loud, in your face and offers a very engaging driving experience.

If I had to take personal preference out of the equation, the new OPC would be at the top of my list – well - if I had around R486 500 that is.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
16.02.2015
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