Long gone are the mediocre styling of yesteryears hot hatches; nowadays, they are simply very aggressive looking. Take a look and notice – all you see are wide arches, big wings and low front bumpers. Sporty is definitely the name of the game here.
The Opel Astra OPC is one of those hyper hot hatch backs that really have its own styling going for it. The aggressive front bumper with that big air intake to cool that beautiful motor off is probably one of the few things you will notice right away. Arguably the wheels, which are a mammoth 20 inches in diameter and the wide arches, are the next things which pop out at you. The wheels simply look amazing on this car and, while I initially thought that it would affect handling negatively, it proved to be quite the opposite.
The larger than your average hatch’s boot spoiler sits slightly higher than the window line, giving the car a rather chunky looking rear end. The taillights, which are shaped similarly to the fronts, start to stare at you, while it will quickly disappear into the horizon.
The interior is mostly leather wrapped and that amazingly awesome sporty heated Recaro seat simply is something you would expect from a high end sports car. They are very comfortable. The interior space for the driver and passenger is pretty good, but the rear could get a tad crapped, simply due to the fact that if the front seat is moved all the way to the rear, it nearly touches the back seat. At that point, I can almost guarantee you that your average driver’s feet won’t reach the pedals, however. The Astra is decently specced with your average features like Dual Zone Climate control and an upmarket stereo fitted standard.
Starting up this little beasty is where all of it comes together. The very responsive 206kw (400nm) engine spins up eagerly and is very willing through the gears. I did find the gearing a little tall, but acceleration was very impressive. The mechanical slip diff had a slight tendency to induce a little torque steer every now and then, but honestly, it’s what driving a high power hatch is all about. Keep in mind that this car is not for those who are fuel conscious and, while the manufacturers claim 8.1l/100km, our best was 8.4l/100km; still not bad I’d say but we were driving very conservatively where possible. Average day to day driving will see you around 11l/100km.
To find a decent handling front wheel drive hatch is hard. To find a brilliant handling one is even harder. I believe that there are only 2 front wheel drive hatches that should be worthy of the crown and that is this Astra OPC and the Megane RS Redbull. The drive is sporty, so bad country roads are best avoided with those lovely 20inch rims; potholes will just destroy them. This car is in its element on a twisty mountain road or a track.
The Astra OPC is one of those cars that we will always love as it’s genuinely very good. It’s even better looking and if you want the baddest looking hatch on the block, the Astra OPC should be on your shortlist.
The Astra OPC retails for R482 400. For more info http://www.opel.co.za/vehicles/opel-range/cars/astra-opc/index.html