Hot hatches are some of the most fun cars that are usable on a daily basis, and what makes this even better the OPC comes with three peddles.
Now you don’t go and buy an Opel because of the badge appeal or because it’s the most practical car you can, you are looking at one because you enjoy driving and don’t mind being a bit alternative, but it is far from a compromise if you are in the market for a performance car. Don’t dismiss it before giving it a shot.
First impression when you walk up to the Astra OPC is the aggressive stance, its squat, low and wide with heavily raked front windscreen, it looks fast standing still. It is aggressive without being too outlandish and hasn’t aged as bad as a lot of competitors. The big wheels suit it and offset the aggressive lines of the car, the subtle details of silver and chrome really work well.
It looks great on the road, it has a presence that a GTI can only dream of!
Open the door and the big, long and heavy doors become noticeable, but the wide opening is advantageous once you slide in to the nappa leather trimmed seats, they ooze comfort and something akin to an Audi RS in comfort with adjustable bolstering and lumbar support, it is impossible not to find a comfortable position.
The flat bottomed leather steering wheel is padded very well with great soft touch’s and some great detailing. It feels great to hold, and is well proportioned. The dash is somewhat scattered with buttons, at first it was a bit overwhelming but once you know where things are it is easy to use. My biggest gripe is not being able to have the climate control set with a single button for temperature, you need to change both which is a small issue. The fit and finish of the interior is good with a mixture of black plastics, piano black fascia, silver and chrome details and the red lighting making a great feel. The build quality is what you would expect of a European car, on par with any euro hot hatch around, and the soft touch materials throughout make it feel like a luxury car worthy of near $100k.
The media centre is a bit clunky as is the switchgear, the nav isn’t easy to use and the maps are already 5 or 6 years out of date. The Bluetooth only connects to one phone at a time which is a frustration if two of you are in the car and you want both connected, however the quality and sound is great compared to some others.
So what’s it like to use, it’s surprisingly practical. It’s spacious inside with quite good legroom both in the front and back. the boot is deep and can fit a couple of suitcases with ease without folding the seats down. No matter what you carry the engine is usable and deals with it with ease. The sloping roofline makes rear visibility while parking a challenge, a reverse camera would be a great addition with the sensors. You can fit 4 people in, albeit probably not for a long time. The big doors making parking in shopping centre’s a challenge.
When you hit the road any failings soon disappear, it’s a smooth ride, it soaks up bumps extremely well for a car on such big wheels.
The three driving modes, Eco, Sport and OPC offer different experiences, normal driving in ECO is great around town, the suspension is compliant, there isn’t much noise from outside and it is like anything you would expect. Sport firms things up a little, the steering gets a bit meatier while the suspension gets a bit more bite, in OPC it gets a bit racy, it will crash over harsh bumps around town but on a nice bit of road it feels firm, planted and like a car worth much more. The engine is meaty and usable when on the run, the gearbox doesn’t like being rushed but the short throw is precise and the gearing is quite good. Fuel economy definitely isn’t on the economical side but if you bury the right foot it will drink like its Oktoberfest. The OPC is easy to position on the road and oozes confidence whether on the open road or around town.
Fuel economy is about average in the hot hatch class, but then not sure what car with 206kw and 400nm betters it? At least for a petrol engine. The gearbox is good but not the last word in smoothness in lower gears, but easily forgiven when you bury the right foot. Once you have experienced all this the brakes are as you would hope, the four pot Brembo’s are more than up to the task.
In the wet, with the standard suspension setting the car is sure footed and inspires confidence, get excited on the throttle and there is torque steer and low speed traction can be an issue.
The OPC is not a logical choice, it is not a GTI, it is far better. If you want a performance bargain on the used car market the OPC is it, with servicing is available through Holden dealers and all parts easily sourced.
There aren’t many drawbacks. The Opel Astra OPC is an extremely well-rounded hot-hatch that offers addictive performance, ride quality you wouldn’t expect from a hot hatch and a great alternative to the mainstream options, above all else when you hit the open road or some decent corners the grin from ear to ear you will make sure you forget any shortcomings…