Client: General Motors Ireland Ltd.
Date: January 2015
Location: West Waterford & South Tipperary, Ireland
Further Information: www.opel.ie
For many years, the horsepower war in the hot hatch sector was arguably an unnecessary one. FWD cars with ~250HP which struggled to put their power down left a sour taste with enthusiasts. It was often to the detriment of the car that manufacturers concentrated on increasing power figures, rather than figuring out how to best transfer the power to the road. Time has been good to the hot hatch though, and the latest generation are enjoying the results of years – and a few euros in investment – of the advances in differential and chassis evolution.
Opel’s latest venture into this sector, comes in the shape of the new Astra OPC (or VXR in the UK market). With 280PS and 400Nm, some will still approach the car hesitantly, but their preconceptions and fears will be wiped away after their first spirited drive. With a mechanical limited slip differential and HiPerStrut front suspension, you would be forgiven if you first thought that the Astra shares the same 4WD platform as its larger Insignia OPC brethren. It’s certainly a car that needs a race track to exploit its full potential. To even attempt so on the road, will see the driver run out of talent – or courage – long before the car does.
What further enhances the appeal of the OPC, for me at least, is the exquisite selection of parts attached to the car. With brakes by Brembo and the superb OPC branded seats have been created with the help of Recaro, it just adds to the experience of the Astra OPC. And what an experience it is…