The long wait is finally over - Opel's scorching new OPC rocket has finally blasted into South Africa and it is an absolute stunner. Not only is it the most powerful Astra ever made but it will spin rubber smoke at just about everything else remotely in its class.
If you have a passion for driving, this is for you.
From a standing start the OPC will hit the 100km/h notch in six seconds flat. The Golf GTI does it in 6.6 seconds. The Renault RS Trophy coupes take 6.6 seconds. Of the four VW Scirocco variants only the TSI R can match German's six second sprint time.
In the show-off department only the Scirocco can match its looks. When it comes to high-speed grip the playing field is more even, with individual driver preferences probably the main decider factor.
I got to set the wild beast free at a track session at Kyalami and was blown away by the car's handling and, depending on what set-up you select, its responses to driver input. It's a wild horse to saddle up and it takes a while to get to terms with it (and coping with the challenging Kyalami circuit) but settle into a comfortable pattern and the OPC is pure pleasure, even when pushing comfort zone boundaries.
Time to rumble
It squirts out of the starting stalls with tons of enthusiasm and the big Brembo brakes scrape off speed quickly and efficiently, without fading or over-heating. VW says it will do 250km/h flat-out and it certainly felt as though this would be easily attainable, maybe even a bit more with a couple of chip tweaks.
Stamp on the accelerator down the Mine Shaft hill and it zips through the kink at 160km/h quite happily. And what really adds to the fun is the throaty rumble from the exhausts... goose-flesh stuff that condemns the OPC's sound system to permanent silence.
Classy lines complement the car’s classy dynamics.
The turbo-charged two-litre engine is moving into the performance space of fully-blown competition engines now that OPC (Opel Performance Centre) has given it the highest power-per-litre output than any Opel petrol production car. This latest engine is 12% more powerful than the previous OPC and its torque is muscled up by 25%.
Yet, in spite of its sharp increase in performance, Opel's clever white coats claim to have reduced fuel consumption by 12% and emissions by 14%. They give fuel consumption of 8.11 litres/100km - but remember these tests are conducted at low speed and under perfect test conditions.
If you have a passion for driving, this is for you
I doubt if anybody is going to buy this car to save the polar bears and stop the Arctic ice from melting. For the OPC is an out-and-out driver's car. It will be bought by people with a passion for driving and performance who will use it for pleasure and for showing off and not to save fuel or the planet. So forget about fuel consumption. Next to the car's grip and go the amount of fuel used will be of lesser importance to anybody who dreams of owning and driving this sporty Opel.
To prospective OPC owners and anoraks, other issues tip the scale. The kind of things they would rather be chatting about will probably be more about the OPC's twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler, its double camshaft phasing, high-performance mechatronic FlexRide chassis system chassis and limited slip differential.
Hear me rumble.
Then they will move on to how to max the car's classy dynamics via three push-button driving mode choices, each with different degrees of shock absorber action, steering feel, and throttle response.
Used as a commuter chariot the standard mode provides good all-round balance between comfort and performance. Go into 'Sport' mode and the suspension stiffens, agility increases and the steering sharpens up. Go all the way and select 'OPC' mode and the car really goes into attack mode. Everything happens quicker and slicker and the car starts shouting: 'Take me to the track'.
Are you feeling brave? Huh?
On the way to the race track the driver can then also decide how he wants to set his electronic stability programme. Leave it at normal as in good for everyday use. Push the envelope and select a braver option which allows the electronic nanny a bit more time before she intervenes to keep the four wheels and the roof from swapping positions. Or go all the way and turn everything off and trust you don't run out of experience and road.
Naughty phrases and even mildly lewd suggestions were not the order of day when Shakespeare wrote: 'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?' However, if he was composing his undying prose in February 2013 after casting a beady eyeball on the new Opel OPC I am sure he would quite happily replaced 'loved" with 'lusted'.
The OPC will spin rubber smoke at just about everything else remotely in its class.
In recent times a few exciting cars have popped up on the local market but not one of them nearly as affordable and with as much magnetic appeal as the latest OPC. For its price it is the Karen Nuremberg of anything in its range.
It the looks department it scores top poser points for 20" alloys wrapped with 245/35 R20 rubber, twin exhaust outlets, sexy bumpers, side skirts, an aerodynamic roof spoiler, snarling front end, sloping windscreen and the menacing way it crouches wide and low.
It's all about speed
The driver's cockpit is all about go-fast, from the small, flat-bottomed steering wheel to its racing-style deep bucket seats positioned almost at tarmac level. A high-performance seat that offers 18 different settings and is made from weight saving materials and even has adjustable cushions in the flanks of the seat, is a standard option on the OPC.
The cabin is trimmed with full leather upholstery with OPC stitching in blue or pearl. The instrument lay-out is clear and user-friendly and the stubby gear level falls naturally to hand. It's the kind of comfortable, classy and closeted environment that wraps itself around the driver - a lovely space to travel in, whether cruising the boulevard or barrelling down the main straight of a race track.
In the long chequered flag history of Opel it has become tradition for all OPC cars to undergo tough tests on the Northern Loop (Nordschleife) of the famous Nurburgring race track in Germany, generally considered to be the toughest and most demanding race track in the world. The new Astra OPC passed a 10,000km endurance test there (equal to about 180,000km of regular road usage) with flying colours.
In terms of direct challengers really only the VW Scirocco R stalks the Astra OPC's territory. The OPC will set you back a blistering R435,000 which, even with a five-year/120,000km warranty and a five-year/90,000km service plan, is credit card blistering - particularly when one looks at the price tags of cars such as the Scirocco (R423,900), Renault RS Trophy Megane (R409,900) and the Golf GTI DSG at R393,300. However, at the costlier end of the price scale, all four Nissan 370Z variants cost more than R500,000.
Costs aside, anybody who signs a cheque for the new OPC will become the owner of a rather unique car that stands entirely on its own individual pedestal - a rocket ship with classy make-up.
Bizcommunity.com motoring editor Henrie Geyser () has worked as a journalist in Cape Town, London and Windhoek for the Argus Company (now Independent Newspapers) and spent 12 years at The Cape Argus in Cape Town. He then owned and ran a public relations consultancy for 13 years. He joined the online publishing industry through iafrica.com, where he worked for five years as news editor and editor. He now freelances for a variety of print and online publications, on the subjects of cars, food and travel, among others; and is a member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.