The arrival of Opel’s exciting Astra OPC has redefined the concept of the Sports Hatch in South Africa. An impressive list of figures set the scene:
- 177 kW and 320 Nm from the 2-litre turbo engine.
- 0-100 km/h in just 6,4 seconds.
- Top speed of 244 km/h (just below the 250 km/h gentleman’s agreement for maximum speed regulation in Germany).
- 9,2 litres per 100 km (MVEG-standard).
From the front the visual appearance is very much GTC plus with a deep front spoiler and large central cooling air intake. Fog lights flank the air intake. Where the GTC follows the Astra norm with its vane type grille pattern, the OPC adopts a honeycomb mesh pattern to screen the air intakes in the grille and front spoiler for engine and brake cooling.
The rear view is defined by a rear spoiler, and by a large bore trapezoidal centre mounted tailpipe, a characteristic OPC styling element, that provides a clue to the raw energy available under the bonnet. No cosmetic treatment here – just a need to move a large amount of burnt exhaust gas, cleaned of its noxious components by an advanced super efficient metal monolith catalyst, away from the engine in the least restrictive way.
Enhanced door sills, more prominent than those of the GTC, compliment the imposing 18 inch, six-spoke alloy wheels shod with 225/40 R18 Y tyres when viewed from the side. An insight to the massive braking power of the Astra OPC is provided by the17 inch brake discs, with their OPC blue callipers, visible behind the wheel spokes. Visually the Astra OPC literally screams dynamic competence.
The interior styling conveys the same message with its form fitting Recaro seats with their combination leather/fabric covering. Full instrumentation with chrome surrounds and LED illumination keeps the driver fully informed – as the ignition is switched on the system performs a visual self-check routine to advise the driver that all is well and that all instruments are set and ready to go. Aluminium pedals and door sill trims, a three-spoke leather covered sport steering wheel, and leather covered gear knob round off the sporty interior image.
The turbocharged 2-ltre engine fitted to the Astra OPC is the latest, and to date most powerful, evolution of the Astra ECOTEC range of engines from Opel. This engine is based on the 2-litre unit fitted to the Astra 2-litre turbo. In that application it develops 147 kW. The OPC version produces 177 kW.
A feature of this advanced four-valve per cylinder engine is the integral turbocharger system. This combines the exhaust manifold, turbo housing and wastegate into one single assembly. This system was first introduced in a production model by Opel as far back as 1992 (Opel Calibra Turbo). This system offers a lighter and more compact form than conventional turbo systems and also makes a significant contribution to engine performance.
The compact design of the turbo housing allows for a short gas flow path between the engine and the turbo. Together with a low inertia turbine this results in an engine characteristic where the torque curve rises steeply from idle speed with an immediate response to even small load changes. This high ‘low-end torque” characteristic is fundamental to the driveability of the Astra OPC.
At just 2400 r/min and at maximum boost of 1,2 bar, the Astra OPC produces 320 Nm of torque and sustains this level right up to 5000 r/min. Maximum power of 177 kW is achieved at 5600 r/min.
The styling and advanced engine technology are matched to the state-of-the-art chassis technology introduced by Opel on the Astra and further refined for the Astra OPC. The spring/damper system has been given a stiffer performance accent to provide a sporty feel and excellent response. The ride height has been lowered by 15mm compared to the Astra GTC for a lower centre of gravity. The steering geometry is revised and the stabiliser is set with a higher preload.
To ensure ample stopping power with good feel and durability the Astra OPC boasts a high performance brake system with massive 17” internally ventilated discs at the front (actual dimensions 321 mm X 28 mm) and 278mm X 10mm solid discs at the rear. The electro hydraulic power steering features a setup specific to the Astra OPC to ensure the best possible feed back and precise steering inputs.
The IDSPlus (Interactive Driving System) chassis concept of the Astra is further optimised for the OPC version for absolute dynamic control. The IDSPlus networks all electronic driver aid systems, including the Electronic Stability Programme (ESPPlus), Traction Control (TCPlus), Understeer Logic Control (UCL), ABS and the Brake Assist.
Already sporty in nature, the OPC boasts a feature that allows the driver to further enhance the dynamic performance and feel of the vehicle at the push of a button. The “SportSwitch” acts to provide a more direct action for steering and throttle inputs. For those that want to take on the raw power and performance of the Astra OPC without the assistance of driver aids, the ESPPlus system can be deactivated.
A full compliment of creature comforts and luxury features are included in the standard equipment list. Automatic air conditioner, radio CD combination with MP3 compatibility and six speakers, electronically adjustable and heated side mirrors, electrically operated windows, tilt and telescope adjustment for the steering column, remote central locking system and 60:40 split fold-forward rear seats are all included in the standard equipment list.
Safety features includes front and side airbags for driver and front passenger, active head restraints on the front seats, curtain airbags for the front and outer rear seats, and seat belt force limiters and pre-tensioners for the front seats. Opel’s renowned pedal release system provides protection for the driver’s feet and lower legs by folding away in the event of a sever collision, and ISOFIX child seat mounts are provided at the rear.
The Astra OPC provides an exciting mix of performance driving and around town suitability that will see it high on the list of desirable vehicles for the enthusiast motorist. The nature of Opel’s OPC products ensures that they will always be limited in supply. Fortunately for South African buyers, General Motors S.A. has secured an ongoing supply of these exciting vehicles.