Wheels24

Fast lady sets pace for Astra OPC

2013-02-13 07:24

OK, so you’re GM, you have one of the hottest two-doors in the land, and you want the news media to tell the world about it. So hire the (sadly dilapidated) Kyalami Grand Prix circuit in Gauteng, bring on 10 new Opel Astra OPC hatches and let a bunch of motoring journos have their way with them.

Worked for me, even if my best lap was a few seconds shy off my peers at 2min14. To be honest, it was seven seconds slower than Opel’s female Stig – 5FM’s gorgeous DJ Elma Smit (nickname for the day: the Sprig) as it turned out when she removed her dark-visored helmet.

ONE FAST LADY

She’s pretty hot behind the wheel, too, and set her benchmark time – live – with a Stig-style display piped by video into Opel’s jazzed-for-the-launch garage in the Kyalami pits: 2min07.

In fact, Elma was faster than any of the journos who got prizes for coming close to her track time.

Take a closer look at the Astra OPC VIDEO

At R435 000 a pop for the 2013 Astra OPC – yep, that’s the price and some thought it a tad on the high side – the track day was a major investment for GM SA but a touching sign of trust in the 14 motoring writers assigned a seat given the 206kW and 400Nm of torque on tap from what Opel says is the most powerful four-cylinder engine it has ever stuck under a bonnet.

Image gallery

The company pulled a similar stunt for the launch of the Opel Corsa OPC back in March 2008 on the “Grand Prix” circuit in East London with UK Touring Car driver John Cleland as the driver to beat. I didn’t – but by only 4.5sec that time.

The first Astra OPC was launched in SA in 2004 as a limited-edition model with a (back then) stompin’ 147kW on tap and capable of out-performing the benchmark VW Golf GTI. Its looks were tame compared with the 2013  version which sports a huge twin-fin roof spoiler and some seriously handsome 20” alloys shod with 245/35 rubber.

AIRFIELD ACTION

Each is held to the tar with OPC-specific gas-filled shock-absorbers, stiffer bushings and stiffer springs – along with a three-setting suspension adjustment adjustable from the cabin (see below).

The second was in 2006 with yet another track day: well, actually a tough course laid out at the Hoedspruit air force base and with former F1 driver Jo Wickelhock handing out advice along with then SA Production Car driver Grant McCleery – the latter present again at this week’s track event but this time with his private army of driving instructors.

The ’06 cars also had a quad-valve, four-pot turbo engine but capable of “only” 177kW and 244km/h, six km/h less than the latest version, and reached 100km/h in 7.5sec – 1.5sec slower than today’s car.

Price back in 2006: R256 690.

GM SA (or, more correctly these days, GM Africa, since the local operation is now responsible for the whole continent) says the Astra complements the Corsa OPC but the bigger car’s engine “is in the realm of full-blown competition engines and the highest specific power output per litre of any Opel petrol production car”.

It is 12% more powerful than the previous Astra OPC; torque is up by 25%. Fuel consumption, however, has been reduced by 12% and CO2 emissions by 14% - 8.11 litres/100km and 189g/km.

SET YOUR STIFFNESS

The engine has direct petrol injection, a twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler, double camshaft phasing and twin balance-shafts in the 1998cc, all-alloy engine.

The excellent track dynamics the cars showed at Kyalami come from high-performance struts on the front suspension, a FlexRide suspension system, a limited-slip differential and jumbo-size Brembo brakes.

FlexRide, Opel explains, involves driver-selectable stiffness settings on the shock-absorbers which alter the car’s handling and accelerator response from “everyday driving” to Sport and then to ‘OPC’, the latter two further hardening the suspension, reducing body roll and sharpening the steering and the third the set-up for Kyalami.

GM says: “There’s a careful match between the differential characteristic and the basic locking torque specification of the LSD ensures a smooth transition between load and overrun.

“It eliminates steering kick-back and any self-steer tendency during overrun. There’s also ample traction reserve if highly varied wheel loads are encountered.”

BREMBO BRAKES

In addition to the three chassis modes available to the driver there is also a choice of three modes for the electronic stability control:

• Standard mode provides the maximum level of ride safety for everyday motoring conditions.
• Competitive mode sets the threshold at which the auto system intervenes to stabilise the vehicle.
• The third mode is “ESP-off”, which deactivates stability control and throws everything that might happen on to the driver’s shoulders.

Opel Performance Cars, GM added, worked with Brembo to design a system fully up to any road – or track – task with a huge 46cm servo booster, 355x32mm vented and cross-drilled discs with four-piston callipers at the front and special high-performance brake pads all round, all inside standard 20” forged-alloy rims.

“It is a tradition during the development of all OPC products,” GM adds, “that they’re put through their paces on the 21km Northern Loop (Nordschleife) of the Nurburgring race track in Germany - generally considered to be the toughest and most demanding race track in the world.”

The Astra OPC passed a 10 000km endurance test at high speed on the Nordschleife “which equates to about 180 000km of normal road use”.

LIGHT BUCKET SEATS

The styling of the Astra OPC, GM adds, “provides an expression of a passion for power and speed” with a sculpted aero treatment involving the front and rear bumpers, skirts, rear roof spoiler and two trapezoidal exhaust tail pipes – the basic design coming from the GTC two-door.

The driver’s office is furnished with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and light bucket seats – manual operation only, but hey, who else will you let drive your OPC? The wheel’s diameter is 10mm less the regular Astra and its spokes have been placed for maximum instrument visibility. The steering column is (also manually) adjustable for height and reach.

South African buyers will get a high-performance driver’s seat as standard with has pneumatically adjustable cushions. Pump up your performance, perhaps...

Whatever, the OPC has full leather upholstery with OPC embroidery in OPC’s signature Arden Blue or Pearl and Opel assures us that German back experts have certified the seat and its 18 settings as “healthy”.

Be seated and hold on.

Vehicle specifications

The Astra OPC is covered by a five-year or 120 000km warranty with roadside assistance. Anti-corrosion warranty is valid for five years/unlimited km. Recommended service intervals 12 months or every 15 000km or as indicated by on-board monitor. A five-year or 90 000km service plan is included in the price of R435 000.

Comments
  • kevin.w.howes - 2013-02-13 08:06

    Nah.. i will keep my RS Cup 265 any day. Bring it on so i can kick ur OPC ass.

      ltjvrensburg - 2013-02-13 11:16

      I agree Kevin but only on a track...on the road which we drive everyday the Renault comes short

      ltjvrensburg - 2013-02-13 11:16

      I agree Kevin but only on a track...on the road which we drive everyday the Renault comes short

      rodney.louis.7 - 2013-02-13 11:39

      Opel have the best looking hot hatch by far !! Performance wise not too shabby as well

      rodney.louis.7 - 2013-02-13 11:39

      Opel have the best looking hot hatch by far !! Performance wise not too shabby as well

      Threetimeschampions - 2013-02-13 19:28

      and need a new kidney after about 10km, and Valium when you see the trade in value

      Threetimeschampions - 2013-02-13 19:28

      and need a new kidney after about 10km, and Valium when you see the trade in value

  • ofentse.ramorula - 2013-02-13 10:26

    Very handsome car, I wouldn't mind taking this over the Golf R, BMW 135i even if the BMW is marginally faster. But the OPC still has no chance against the old Focus RS. The new 2014 Focus RS will chew it for bf, lunch and supper. Sorry about the Renault Megane RS Sport, I have never seen one on the road, literally.

      erik.p.vanwyk - 2013-02-13 11:51

      I dont recall seeing the RS Ford on the road either. I saw one in my home town and one in JHB somewhere, and I travel quite alot. It was ugly too.

      erik.p.vanwyk - 2013-02-13 11:51

      I dont recall seeing the RS Ford on the road either. I saw one in my home town and one in JHB somewhere, and I travel quite alot. It was ugly too.

      Makaveli - 2013-02-13 13:50

      Really Erik? Do u expect to see a very limited edition Focus RS every corner like Golf R Sardines? Only 60 were sold in the country, but I managed to spot a couple but not a single Renault RS which is not limited.

      Makaveli - 2013-02-13 13:50

      Really Erik? Do u expect to see a very limited edition Focus RS every corner like Golf R Sardines? Only 60 were sold in the country, but I managed to spot a couple but not a single Renault RS which is not limited.

      erik.p.vanwyk - 2013-02-13 15:32

      Ive seen more Fiat 500 Abarth on the road to date which is more limited that the RS was and Fiat a brand that sells less than ford overall. Im not dissing the ford in any way but I didnt see the use of it as the ST was a very complete and comprehensive package to begin with and a very good seller.I think the hype of the RS was more overwhelming than the actuall car itself. Plus it priced more than the S3 at that time which to me is a better hatch over all.

      erik.p.vanwyk - 2013-02-13 15:32

      Ive seen more Fiat 500 Abarth on the road to date which is more limited that the RS was and Fiat a brand that sells less than ford overall. Im not dissing the ford in any way but I didnt see the use of it as the ST was a very complete and comprehensive package to begin with and a very good seller.I think the hype of the RS was more overwhelming than the actuall car itself. Plus it priced more than the S3 at that time which to me is a better hatch over all.

      indianajohn - 2013-02-13 16:39

      erik, the Fiat 500 Abarth is not a limited edition. There were some versions of it that were limited runs, but there are thousands of the normal Abarth. It depends on what you want. I personally find that turbochargers turn a "hot hatch" into something completely different. They are more like comfortable, long-legged cruisers that happen to corner very well, but the throttle response ruins any chance of truly accurate driving and old school fun. So as far as a "hot hatch" goes, Renault are the only ones who still make them properly. The Astra OPCs and Golf GTIs of the world are wonderful, very fast, comfortable, amazing cars. But hot hatches? No. A hot hatch should be a fizzy, immediate experience, and nothing with a turbocharger can do that.

      indianajohn - 2013-02-13 16:39

      erik, the Fiat 500 Abarth is not a limited edition. There were some versions of it that were limited runs, but there are thousands of the normal Abarth. It depends on what you want. I personally find that turbochargers turn a "hot hatch" into something completely different. They are more like comfortable, long-legged cruisers that happen to corner very well, but the throttle response ruins any chance of truly accurate driving and old school fun. So as far as a "hot hatch" goes, Renault are the only ones who still make them properly. The Astra OPCs and Golf GTIs of the world are wonderful, very fast, comfortable, amazing cars. But hot hatches? No. A hot hatch should be a fizzy, immediate experience, and nothing with a turbocharger can do that.

      erik.p.vanwyk - 2013-02-14 09:52

      Indian then I suggest you buy yourself a Twingo RS or Suzuki Swift Sport as they all fit your criteria.

      erik.p.vanwyk - 2013-02-14 09:52

      Indian then I suggest you buy yourself a Twingo RS or Suzuki Swift Sport as they all fit your criteria.

  • mogo.naut - 2013-02-13 10:55

    Not taking anything away from the other hot hatches, but this makes the others look like mild hatches in the looks department.

  • stampalex - 2013-02-13 11:02

    You call this a test/review/opinion? Not one decent paragraph about your experience with the car. Juyst blurb about some chick and then a bunch of cut and paste. You do motor journalism and the OPC serious injustice. Pathetic. I see your name isn't even assigned to this piece of trash writing. Figures.

  • graeme.saunders.50 - 2013-02-13 11:16

    Well as good as I'm sure it is, it's an Opel. So they had to get Brembo to do the brakes so they work and don't shudder, then got the guy from Ford who designed Revo Knuckle to make sure it can go around a corner, but I wonder how long until the Turbo blows and a dash rattle develops?

  • erik.p.vanwyk - 2013-02-13 11:48

    I have always been a huge Opel fan and still is.I think they should have priced this simular to the Megane RS Cup though. In all publications and test globally the OPC and Megane ran simular or exact same lap times as well as accelleration times which tells me Opel really did their homework on this version and executed it right. The Opel might be more comfortable on our public roads. The Opel and Renault both pipped the Golf R and RS3 around the Hockenheim circuit conduted by a German publication. For me I will still pick the OPC due to me being a life long fan but should I be able to afford one, I'll go for a demo model ata cheaper price.

      Makaveli - 2013-02-13 13:57

      I think they are priced similarly, you must remember that the Aero Pack is standard in South Africa. It is a £1500 option overseas, that is about R20K.

      Makaveli - 2013-02-13 13:57

      I think they are priced similarly, you must remember that the Aero Pack is standard in South Africa. It is a £1500 option overseas, that is about R20K.

  • cypro.mailula - 2013-02-13 14:13

    One thing for sure is that if you looking for a hot hatch, you're spoiled for choice. I'd have thought this very fact will make the manufacturers price these cars very competitively because there is plenty of competition, but instead they keep on trying to outperform each other on who can set the highest price.

  • MuhammadSheikOumar - 2013-02-13 14:17

    Price wise the Astra OPC competes with the Focus RS. But several magazines have rated the Focus ST better than the Astra OPC. Opel really need to fit an independent rear suspension on the Astra. Nevertheless this Opel is by far the best looking and deserves to succeed. However, Safas will look at the price and go and buy an ST or GTi instead.

  • abdul.cassiem.9 - 2013-02-13 14:27

    Hmmmm no thank you I stick my 1M BMW

  • dave.ducker.3 - 2013-02-13 15:46

    Would be interesting to put that up against the Megan and the new focus which is R100k cheaper ;) but must admit looks good but price is out.

  • stampalex - 2013-02-13 18:21

    Check out this OPC test in Oz... http://media.smh.drive.com.au/cars/car-reviews/track-test-opel-astra-opc-4029135.html

  • Threetimeschampions - 2013-02-13 19:26

    Buy it for R440 grand and then cry a river as you will never even get close to R200 grand when you sell it. And the facelift comes out in a couple of months. Once again a manufacture dumps an old model on our shores. Nee wat, even that wannabe Toyota br is better then this crap

  • peet.myburgh - 2013-02-14 08:01

    Its hard to find a used Opc Astra for sale. Used Gti's and Sti's pick and choose on every corner ?

  • dan.esterhuyse - 2013-02-14 10:24

    The BEAST has arrived. Mercedes Benz has just launched it's A45AMG. It is powered by a 1991cc turbocharged engine, all wheel drive and and pushes out 268kw, and screams from 0- 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. Awesome Hatch.The goalposts have just been moved, and i think for a long time.

      dave.ducker.3 - 2013-02-14 13:54

      32000.00 pounds in the UK, thus here most likely be minimum of above R500k?

  • grant.lottering.5 - 2013-02-14 19:47

    ST's are the every man's car. The in betweener. Most okes in SA are only exposed to them lately. RS is new to them and they don't know the heritage as neither owned or experienced Cosworths which is RS, in this country. It is the ultimate road going Ford. Megane RS, Golf GTI's, Opel OPC's offer there best against what? The ST? They don't have better to offer. The RS is the big Daddy. So get with it. When you have a performance car that is chosen as the better option above your choices all over the world, as a better hot hatch, and its not even the RS it speaks volumes.

      MuhammadSheikOumar - 2013-02-15 11:05

      Yup that new Focus ST is really special. The new Focus RS will most likely be an engineering masterpiece. Details are few at the moment but word has it the new Focus RS will deliver 244Kw through a limted slip diff with RevoKnuckle geometry and Torque Vectoring. At the back Ford will continue with the Control Blade IRS. Apparently the engine in the Focus RS will be 2.3 litre Ecoboost which will also be fitted in the new Mustang. I heard a dealer chirping the new Mustangs will reach SA too.

  • grant.lottering.5 - 2013-02-14 19:51

    ST that is.

  • Kwashic - 2013-02-15 16:32

    Megane might be great but plastic rear glass? He'll no! Ford focus, golf and merc for me. But because one is over priced and another sill have high running costs...i would go for the focus. The opel opc is also over priced!

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