The Opel Astra OPC has arrived and this super hot hatch is definitely one that will be receiving more than its fair share of envious gazes on the roads, as we found out...

The Opel Astra OPC has arrived and this super hot hatch is definitely one that will be receiving more than its fair share of envious gazes on the roads, as we found out...

The newest addition to the Opel family in South Africa, the Astra OPC is powered by the two-litre Ecotec engine already seen here in the Astra Coupé Turbo. Although the Astra OPC will conjure up images of Opel's illustrious days on the local hot hatch market in the 80's and early 90's, this is a refined package that manages to better harness its power than the previous models did.

The powerplant produces 147 kW at 5 600 r/min and maximum torque of 250 N.m is available between 1 950 and 5 600 r/min. It will propel the Astra OPC from zero to 100 km/h in 7,5 seconds, reaching a top speed of 240 km/h. According to the manufacturer, the mid-range sprint from 80 to 120 km/h in fifth gear takes 9,5 seconds.

As impressive as these figures are, the best attribute is the way the power is delivered. There is no noticeable turbo kick, just a seamless wave of power across the rev range. Adding to this impression of refined power is a five-speed manual gearbox that is much slicker than previous Opel gearboxes.

Attention has been paid to the brakes and suspension, and it shows. Grip is huge and body control excellent. There is some torque steer, as you would expect from a powerful front driver, but it's easily handled. And nowhere near as bad as, for example, Opel's own Kadett 200tS of the mid '90s.

And while the interior and its fittings can be described as being a bit 'cheap', it does have all of the essentials, and the car's performance means it is swiftly overlooked.

Apart from exclusive 17-inch aluminium wheels, distinctive features of the Astra OPC model include a special OPC grill and aero kit with side skirts, and remoulded front and rear lower aprons.

From the front, the enlarged air intakes, black engine grill and air cooler catch the eye. Ducts located next to the round fog lights, which are integrated into the bumper, channel cool air to the high performance brake system.

This all-out performance Astra is not short on comfort items, either, as standard features include: air-conditioning, CD-Radio combination, on-board computer, electric windows all around and central locking system with remote control.

The driver and front passenger seats were developed jointly by OPC and Recaro and have a combination leather/cloth finish while the rear seats have been designed to match.

The steering wheel has integrated controls for the audio system and features a two-tone perforated leather cover. The performance characteristic is carried through the interior with an aluminium gear lever, metallic finish console, and instrumentation that has red indicators on a white face.

The Astra OPC costs R232 500.

A full test of the Astra OPC will be featured in the March issue of CAR magazine.

Original article from Car