Opel has a rich heritage in producing fast cars, with such cars as the Astra GSi and the Lotus Carlton. Their latest hot hatch available to Irish motorists is this new Opel Astra OPC, squarely aimed at taking a slice out of a hotly contested segment. Its main competitors include the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Renaultsport Megane and Seat Leon Cupra.
The Astra OPC is sufficiently equipped to challenge its closest rivals, it packs a real punch, with 280hp and 400Nm of torque with a six-speed manual transmission. Opel’s engineers fitted a mechanical limited slip differential so the Astra’s front wheels can transfer all the engine’s power to the road. To put the car’s engine, transmission and chassis to the test, we took the Astra OPC on track where we can safely explore its limits. The car’s chassis has excellent rigidity, coupled with Opel’s HiPerStrut front suspension to enable high speed cornering. It’s properly fast too, setting a laptime of 1:06.21 which is just faster than Audi’s S3 Saloon, this places it in 7th position on our laptime chart.
It’s not just a proficient track tool, the Astra OPC excels on the road too, where it’ll spend most of its motoring life. The build quality is excellent throughout, inside the layout is clean and uncluttered with quality switch gear. We are particularly fond of the figure-hugging sports seats, these offer comfort and support to both driver and front seat passenger. The driving experience is refined and comfortable, the OPC is content to cruise at motorway speeds, yet at the touch of the OPC button on the centre console it awakens its hot hatch spirits, to tackle twisty country roads. Visually the OPC sets itself apart from its regular GTC siblings with large air intakes, a rear spoiler and diffuser. Our test car was equipped with the optionally available 20-inch alloy wheels which sit neatly in front of immense Brembo brake callipers. The list of standard equipment is extensive, just some of the highlights includes, air conditioning, Flexride chassis with OPC settings, OPC gear shifter, gear knob and sports pedals, OPC instrument graphics, performance-optimised exhaust, hill-start assist, daytime running lights, usb and iPod connection.
The Astra OPC is a genuine hot hatch, with the performance to match its looks. It’s suitably equipped to challenge its rivals which should take note.
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