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Geneva show: Opel's 220kW-plus Extreme hatch

Extreme measures: Opel’s Astra Extreme was bred for the racetrack but looks set for a road career.

Opel throws down the gauntlet to Honda Civic Type R with Astra road racer


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27 Feb 2014

OPEL has confirmed its race-bred Astra Extreme is likely to go into limited production for the road, unleashing more than 220kW of power in a stripped-back front-drive hardcore hatch.

The car, to be revealed at next week’s Geneva motor show, will be at least 10 per cent more powerful than the current Astra performance flagship, the 200kW OPC, as well as 100kg lighter thanks to liberal use of light-weight materials.

The turbo-charged all-aluminium 2.0-litre engine is the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever produced for the road by General Motor’s European subsidiary.

Although the exact engine performance figures remain under wraps, Opel promises “more than 300hp” (220kW) from it. It will be mated with a six-speed manual transmission, driving the front wheels via a limited-slip differential.

The Astra Extreme will go head to head with Honda’s new Civic Type R, which will also debut at the Geneva expo. In the Honda’s case, the Type R is also expected to get power north of 200kW and torque above 400Nm.

As the Opel brand has been withdrawn from the Australian market, it is unclear if the Astra Extreme will come to Australia, although GM Holden has not ruled out cherry picking some Opel products for sale under Holden badges here.

Opel says the Astra Extreme was derived from last year’s Astra Cup car that competed in the Nurburgring Endurance Championship in Europe.

While Opel says the Extreme’s “natural environment” will be the racetrack, it adds: “If public reaction is as positive as expected, Vauxhall plans a low-volume production run for the Extreme.”

To reduce the weight and thus improve performance, Opel has used carbon-fibre for the rear wing, diffuser, front spoiler, bonnet, suspension cross-bracing, engine cover, wheels, rear wheelhouse ventilation and roof.

The carbon fibre roof weighs just 2.6kg, compared with a steel roof’s 9.3kg, while the front mudguards weigh 800g each instead of 2.2kg in steel.

Opel says the light-weight materials not only reduce weight but also lower the centre of gavity.

To be sold under both Opel and Vauxhall badges in European and Britain, the Astra Extreme sits on race-style adjustable suspension dampers and it stopped by six-piston Brembo brakes with 370mm diameter discs at the front.

The unique 19-wheels carry 245/35 tyres.

The Extreme is only a two-seater, with the rear seat removed and replaced by a roll-cage. The race car fit-out is completed with Recaro bucket front seats, six-point safety harnesses and a suede-covered sports steering wheel.

Clearly, Opel has thrown down the gauntlet to Honda, who has publicly proclaimed that it wants its British-built Civic Type R to be the fastest front-wheel drive hot hatch around the Nurburgring.

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