Opel Astra GTC Arrives In South Africa Fresh from Its European Debut
- Stunning new compact coupe from Opel
- Advanced chassis technology with Opel HiPerStrut front axle
- Roomy five-seater packed with innovations
- Coupe style motoring suited to everyday family use
The all new Opel Astra GTC was shown for the first time to the international motoring press at the Frankfurt Motorshow in September last year. Just weeks later this exciting Coupe was seen in South Africa for the first time at the Johannesburg International Motorshow where it was announced that the GTC would go on sale in South Africa early in 2012.
Now, hot on the heels of its sales debut in Europe, this promise is fulfilled with the arrival of the Astra GTC at GM dealerships around South Africa. GMSA has announced that it will offer two model variants of the GTC at launch, the Astra GTC 1.4T Enjoy and the 1.6T Sport.
Both offer the latest in small capacity turbocharged petrol engine technology from Opel. The Astra GTC 1.4T Enjoy offers maximum power of 103 kW @ 4900 r/min and peak torque of 200 Nm over the wide range of 1850 – 4900 r/min. The Astra GTC 1.6T produces 132 kW @ 5500 r/min with 230 Nm of torque available between 2200 and 5400 r/min. In both models drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission to the front wheels.
Maximum emotion expressed with just three clean lines
The dynamic styling of the Opel GTC, with its sculpted profile, sets this model apart in the compact coupe market. Public interest based on early information about the GTC was such that prior to the first official showing of the vehicle, and several months ahead of its general availability, Opel had received more than 15 000 orders, effectively sight unseen.
Unlike most other three-door versions of existing hatch competitors the Astra GTC has been styled as a stand alone model in the range. Although based on the Astra platform, the only common exterior elements shared with other members of the Astra family are the exterior rear view mirror surrounds and the radio antenna.
The design brief given to the Astra GTC engineering team was to deliver the ultimate expression of Opel’s design language of ‘sculptural artistry meets German precision’ as applied to its current model range. A consideration was overall functionality of the final design.
To define the dramatic profile of the vehicle the designers limited themselves to the use of just three key styling lines to create tension and the impression of a sculpted form. The first of these lines is a fine one that sweeps downward from the side door to the bottom of the rear fender and energises the appearance of the body side.
A second styling line encapsulates the door handle and stretches to the rear, emphasising the Astra GTC’s dramatic stance by spreading the surfaces between a fine undercut and a broad shoulder. The third styling line is emphasised in chrome and follows the clean, sporty silhouette of the roof to accentuate the side window profile and guide the eye to the integrated spoiler.
The shoulder element of the GTC is the most dramatic. Its powerful design provides the car with imposing proportions and a purposeful presence on the road, highlighting the low, road-hugging stance of the vehicle.
The clean frontal design features Opel’s signature centreline crease and is accented by slim ‘eagle-eye’ styled headlamps defined by ‘wing-shaped’ daytime running lights. These bracket the bar mounted chrome emblem that splits the dramatically shaped trapezoidal grille. This imparts a distinct sporty flavour to the frontal styling.
Advanced front suspension design
The Astra GTC features Opel’s advanced HiPerStrut front suspension, the first time that this system has been implemented on an Astra model.
Ideally suited for a compact coupé, HiPerStrut delivers improved ride and handling characteristics as well as a more direct steering response – all desirable characteristics for the more enthusiastic driver. This system was first introduced on the Opel Insignia OPC mid-sized performance model and uses the Astra’s original suspension pick-up points but reduces the kingpin inclination angle by 44 percent and shortens the spindle length by 46 percent compared to the McPherson strut system fitted to other Astra models.
These features assist in a significant reduction of torque steer – a common occurrence in high-performance front wheel drive cars. The HiPerStrut front suspension geometry allows the Astra GTC driver to fully enjoy the high performance of the vehicle without the steering being compromised by torque steer under hard acceleration and when changing gear.
The HiPerStrut system also limits camber change on the front wheels during cornering to improve grip and thus road holding and stability. Steering feel is enhanced by a reduction in friction levels. A further bonus is that this latest front suspension design from Opel allows for large diameter wheels (up to 20 inches in diameter) to be fitted to the Astra GTC.
Compared to the regular Astra models, the GTC is lower – by as much as 15mm, has a 10mm longer wheelbase at 2695mm, and a wider track – increased 40mm at the front and 30mm at the rear. All of this adds up to an aggressive, lower ‘planted on the ground’ look for the Astra GTC and improved handling.
Compound crank/Watt’s link rear suspension enhances lateral stability
The Astra GTC utilises an enhanced compound crank, or Watt’s link, type rear suspension layout to compliment the HiPerStrut front suspension. Roll stiffness and roll-centre height have been optimised.
This layout has several advantages over more common modern multi-link rear suspension designs, including more compact packaging, less susceptibility to camber change, and reduced friction in the system. The Watt’s link ensures a high level of lateral stability under even the harshest of cornering conditions.
The Watt’s link is mounted on a small cross-member attached to the underside of the car just behind the rear wheel centre line. It comprises of a pivoting centre link with a ball joint mounted at each end to which the lateral links to the wheel hubs are connected.
In straight line driving conditions this set up ensures excellent stability. When cornering it serves to minimize lateral deflection of the rear suspension. The Watt’s linkage absorbs as much as 80 percent of all lateral loads on the suspension. The effectiveness of this geometry allows for softer suspension bushes to be used for enhanced ride comfort with lower levels of NVH generated by the rear suspension and transferred into the passenger compartment.
Direct steering response inspires confidence
Precision, feedback, and confidence were the criteria set for the development of the Astra GTC’s uniquely tailored power steering system. The challenge was to maintain a light steering effort at low speeds but to dial in better feel and response together with a slightly higher steering effort at higher speeds.
The GTC’s steering is by a rack and pinion system with speed sensitive electronic power assistance. In order to ensure the optimum level of driver feel and steering feedback the electric power assistance motor is mounted directly on the steering rack, as opposed to the usual mounting position on the steering column.
Modern electric power steering systems provide a number of benefits. Amongst these is that fact that they are more easily programmed for varying driving conditions and importantly they are more energy efficient than hydraulic based systems that require power directly from the vehicle’s engine.
Sporty but practical
With the Opel Astra GTC there is no compromise in functionality despite its coupe design. The Astra GTC offers comfortable seating for five adults with a flexible luggage compartment that will hold between 380 litres and 1165 litres – more than 100 litres more than other vehicles in its class – depending on the seat configuration. There are numerous additional convenience storage areas inside the vehicle.
The high quality interior combines sculptured shapes and dynamic lines for a distinctly sporty character enhanced by the choice of upholstery fabrics and colours.
“The Astra is the best selling model in the Opel product family and enjoys strong support from South African buyers who favour a truly European flavour in their motoring experience,” says Malcolm Gauld, GMSA’s Vice President, Sales and marketing. “The Astra passed a milestone, with 10 million sales achieved, just prior to the introduction of the latest generation model, a model that has further boosted sales.
“The Opel Astra GTC is the ultimate Astra with its superb driving dynamics and unreserved expression of Opel’s design language. The GTC injects a new level of passion into the brand for the enthusiast motorist as the flagship of the range. The Astra GTC offers a unique blend of performance and five-seater practicality to South African vehicle buyers.”