The locally built Holden Cruze is set to face further pressure from within after Opel Australia today confirmed it would expand its Opel Astra range with the GTC three-door hatchback variant.
Opel is also hoping to introduce the Astra OPC hot-hatch, which will debut at March’s 2012 Geneva motor show, as it targets aggressive sales growth with the nameplate already well established in Australia by its sister General Motors brand.
The Astra GTC and Astra OPC hot-hatch would grow Opel Australia’s Astra range to four variants, joining the five-door hatch and wagon body styles already confirmed for the brand’s launch in the third quarter of 2012.
Opel Australia has released limited information on the Astra GTC’s local specifications. A number of engine choices are available in Europe, but CarAdvice believes the company will focus more on the petrol rather than diesel options.
The petrol engines are expected to include the 103kW 1.4-litre turbo that’s currently offered in the Holden Cruze, while a 132kW 1.6-litre turbo engine would give Opel a highly desirable hot-hatch rival to the popular Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The GTC will carry a premium of a few thousand dollars over the five-door Astra, which in turn will be priced similarly to the Volkswagen Golf to pitch it at a more premium level than the Holden Cruze.
The Opel Astra OPC is a successor to the model that was badged HSV VXR a few years ago in Australia, which sold with limited success.
The Astra OPC was revealed late last year but will make its global debut at the 2012 Geneva motor show. With 206kW/400Nm produced from its 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine, the front-wheel-drive hot-hatch is the most powerful Astra ever built and will be a natural rival for models such as the $59,990 Ford Focus RS (no longer available as new) and $47,490 Volkwagen Scirocco R.
GM Opel boss Karl-Friedrich Stracke last year revealed that Opel was targeting 15,000 annual sales by 2015 in Australia with plans to grow further beyond that.
Although a succession of Opels have already been sold over the decades in Australia under the Holden badge – including the first, 1978 Commodore that was a rebadged Opel Rekord – the company has acknowledged it will have some work to do in terms of brand recognition.
The Astra will sit at the heart of Opel’s local ambitions, not just because as a small car it sits in Australia’s best-selling vehicle category but also because the nameplate is so widely recognised.
Other models in the 2012 launch range will include the Corsa city car and Insignia medium car. Opel Australia will also consider the new Mokka baby SUV that will be unveiled at the 2012 Geneva motor show.