It’s been more than 10 years since the legendary two-litre 16-valve Opel Kadett Superboss bowed out, but its spiritual successor, the 108 kW Opel Astra 2,2 GSi, is far more civilised.

It’s been more than 10 years since the legendary two-litre 16-valve Opel Kadett Superboss bowed out, but its spiritual successor, the 108 kW Opel Astra 2,2 GSi, is far more civilised.

In South Africa, the GSi nomenclature has become synonymous with high-performance Opels and production car racing. The Opel range currently offers a GSi version of its Opel Corsa range, the recently-launched Astra 160 Sport and uprated Coupé Turbo (more about those models tomorrow) and the range-topping Opel Astra 2,2 GSi.

Many hot hatch enthusiasts will undoubtedly remember the GSi's heyday - when the 1,8-litre eight-valve Kadett burst on to the scene in the mid 'Eighties. By the time Delta launched the three-door two-litre eight-valve Kadett, which took the battle to the Volkswagen Golf II 16V or "The King" in what was then known as Group N racing, the GSi was affectionately dubbed "The Boss".

But that's not where it ended. Cosworth in England developed a 115 kW two-litre 16-valve Kadett and it was launched in South Africa in the early-'90s. "The Big Boss", as the car became known, was homologated and did fierce battles with the BMW 325iS "Shadowlines" in class A of Group N with Michael Briggs and Roddy Turner at the wheel.

The final incarnation of the Kadett GSi to be sold in South Africa was "The Superboss". Fitted with a limited-slip differential and a two-litre 16-valve tuned to produce 125 kW, the black-rimmed Kadett GSi became an instant collector's item. But does the new 2,2 GSi, with its Irmscher body and interior specification, set a new benchmark for the GSi badge?

High-tech all-aluminium engine

The 2,2 GSi's Z22SE powerplant, featuring electronic engine management, traction control plus (TCP) and cruise control, is the first of a new generation of four-cylinder ECOTEC engines with aluminium cylinder heads and cylinder blocks.

The engine is claimed to develop 108 kW at 5 800 r/min and 203 N.m of torque at 4 000 r/min. Despite its larger capacity the 2,2 litre engine is as compact as the Opel two-litre engine and about 10 per cent lighter, Delta claims. This is partly due to the use of a roller chain to drive the two overhead camshafts that operate the valves via needle roller bearing cam followers - a system that generates less friction than the bucket type tappet system it replaces.

The timing chain has a hydraulic tensioner that requires no routine maintenance or adjustment over its entire working life and thanks to hydraulic valve clearance adjustment, no tappet clearance adjustment will be required either - the manufacturer claims.

Delta says the 2,2 GSI will accelerate from rest to 100 km/h in 9,5 seconds and reach a top speed of 214 km/h. At a steady 120 km/h fuel consumption is a claimed 8,6 litres/100 km. The figure returned for the urban cycle is about 10,8 litres/100 km.

Sporty appearance, luxury specification

The 2,2 GSi has 16-inch alloy wheels fitted with 205/50 VR 16 tyres, colour-coded rear tailgate spoiler, front and rear lip spoilers and rocker mouldings. But the interior of the vehicle gives the impression of "sporty executive" rather than boy racer.

The trim features Irmscher "alu" look centre console and gear knob, steering wheel and handbrake lever. Black leather seat bolsters, multi-function information display and electro chromatic rear view mirror are standard.

Other standard features include: ABS braking with EBD (electronic brake force distribution), driver, passenger, and side airbags, remote central door locking with speed sensor, electro-hydraulic power steering, interior light delay, sports instrumentation package with trip computer; air conditioning, cup holders (front), front and rear fog lamps, power side mirrors (driver's side is heated), power windows, six-speaker sound system with front load radio/CD combination, and cruise control.

The 2,2 GSi retails for R200 840, which includes a 5-year/100 000 km Opel Fixed Cost Motoring Plan.

Original article from Car