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Geneva show: Opel wows with ‘Extreme’ Astra

Sharp shooter: Opel has confirmed the race-bred Astra OPC Extreme will provide the “foundation” for a limited-volume production run.

Fastest-ever Opel Astra to be built in limited volume – and could find its way to Oz

Opel logo31 Jan 2014

By TERRY MARTIN

OPEL might have fled from Australia but Holden is planning to reattach the lion badge on key models from General Motors’ European brand, which puts the Astra OPC Extreme revealed overnight sharply into focus.

To make its world premiere at the Geneva motor show in March, the Extreme iteration is a stripped-back, no-nonsense, race-bred variant of the flagship Astra OPC three-door coupe that was cut short in Australia, lasting only six months on sale here before GM pulled the pin on the entire brand last August due to insufficient sales.

Although the Extreme is described as a “study”, Opel has confirmed the vehicle – billed as the fastest-ever Astra road car – “is to be the foundation for a low-volume production run”.

The ‘regular’ Astra OPC is endowed with a thumping 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that produces 206kW of power at 5300rpm and 400Nm of torque from 2400-4800rpm. It can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.0 seconds, on its way to a 250km/h top speed.

Opel is still to reveal performance details of the Extreme, although it is expected to push up to the 300bhp (224kW) mark, or beyond.

For now, the company is saying only that “this OPC Extreme will be the fastest street-legal Astra ever” and draws heavily from the Astra OPC Cup racing car.

As well as the expected performance upgrade, a key factor in the German-developed sports model’s extra turn of speed will be the use of carbon-fibre components that make it lighter than the circa-1500kg Astra OPC.

The car to be shown in Geneva will also be fitted with an integrated safety structure, racing seats and six-point seatbelts, which according to Opel “means it comes equipped for the racetrack”.

A single image of the “true super-sportscar” (as Opel describes it) released overnight also gives away details such as a bespoke wheel and tyre package, quad exhaust system, huge rear wing, unique bumpers front and rear and racing decals.

The 2014 Extreme follows the gullwing-doored Astra OPC ‘X-treme’ concept shown in 2002, which likewise used carbon-fibre panels and had a race-spec interior but stuffed a 330kW 4.0-litre V8 under the bonnet – and was a once-off.

The exclusive, limited nature of this latest version is sure to be on the radar at Holden, which has confirmed that Opel cars are back on the agenda for rebadging under the lion brand.

Specific models are still to be identified, but they are certain to be either sports versions that are kept well away from bread-and-butter mainstream cars – such as Cruze, in the high-volume small-car segment – or body styles not currently offered here, such as a small convertible (Cascada).

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