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AIMS: Opel to make show debut with Astra OPC

Fast forward: Opel might be 150 years old, but the Astra OPC is right up to the minute.

Opel’s latest and greatest Astra hatch to line up next to 1905 museum car in Sydney

16 Oct 2012

ONE of the oldest companies in the automotive business will be the newest exhibitor at this year’s Australian International Motor Show, with Opel making its debut appearance under its own banner.

As GoAuto reported exclusively last week, the European arm of General Motors – celebrating 150 years as a manufacturer this year – will mark its first Aussie show with the local debut of Europe’s hottest front-drive four-cylinder hatchback, the Astra OPC.

The three-door 206kW/400Nm turbocharged firebrand will be shown off ahead of its early 2013 showroom launch in Australia where it will instantly become the performance halo car of the Opel range introduced locally in September.

It will be joined on the Sydney stand by a selection of other models from the Opel range, including the Corsa light hatchback, Astra hatch and Sports Tourer wagon, Astra GTC and Insignia sedan.

Founded as a sewing machine manufacturer by German Adam Opel in 1862, Opel started making bicycles in 1886 and then cars in 1899.

52 center imageFrom top: Opel Astra GTC Sports Tourer and Corsa.

Taken over by GM in 1929, Opel has supplied a long line of vehicles to its parent company, which has marketed them around the world under various badges, including Australia’s Holden.

Now, in a bid to improve the fortunes of the European-centric operation that has struggled financially for several years, GM has taken the decision to extend Opel’s footprint under its own brand to more markets around the world.

Cars such as the Astra OPC will be critical to that expansion, providing the brand lustre needed to challenge the well-established European marques such as Volkswagen and premium Japanese operators such as Mazda and Honda.

Based on the coupe-like Astra GTC hatch, the OPC version can charge from zero to 100km/h in six seconds – matching the current class leader, the Renault Megane RS265, and is faster by about six tenths of a second than Volkswagen’s new-generation Golf GTI due in 2013.

The Opel hatch puts its driving force to the tarmac via the front wheels, but tames the torque steer with Opel’s HiPerStrut front chassis design and a limited-slip differential.

The Astra is enhanced by Opel Performance Centre (OPC), and is sold as the Vauxhall VRX in Britain.

The previous VRX, with a 176kW/320Nm turbocharged four-cylinder engine, was marketed in Australia under Holden Special Vehicles badges between 2006 and 2009.

To underline the heritage of Opel, the newest Astra will be shown alongside one of the oldest still in existence, a 1905 Opel Darracq, direct from the Opel collection in Germany.

Apart from these, Opel Australia will show a three-door Corsa Colour Edition, five-door Astra Sport, diesel Astra Select Sports Tourer wagon, three-door Astra GTC Sport, and Insignia Select turbo sedan.

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