Road Test Opel Astra OPC
280hp, 400Nm and beautiful styling, the Astra OPC does not match a Megane 3 RS in the dynamic department, but has other charms.
Woaaaaa ! Freeway on-ramp, flat out in second gear, I am not giving up an inch on the M3 E46 ahead of me, and I am overtaking in third. To my surprise, and probably to the BMW’s driver too. I don’t claim encyclopedic knowledge of turbo engines although I have heard two or three already, including a few works of art, but I have never heard a sound like this. Ever. To be clear, we are not talking about sound amplitude, although this Astra is likely to outshine many sport cars, but about sound signature. For the salvation of your soul, and maybe the damnation of your driving license, slot third in – or better fourth, mash the throttle and wait for the 4000 rpm mark and rrrrraaaaaaaasssshhhh !
A divine symphony of induction, turbo and exhaust noise, a system that gets as much attention from bystanders as it most likely did from acoustic engineers at Opel. Based on the A20NFT unit used in the Insignia Turbo, these three elements have been put to task to squeeze 280hp and 400 Nm from the direct injection 2 liter inline 4. Respectable figures, moreover when “front wheel drive” comes in the same sentence. This is where memories of the Astra GTC come back to my mind.
The same annoying details struck me as soon as I got into the car. Thick A pillars, the electric hand brake, the ring on the dash that you have to press to validate screen commands. This interior is otherwise a familiar and happy place to be, even more so since I was shown how to pull the roof lining to uncover this immense optional panoramic windshield. This 1200 CHF equipment is incompatible with the Bluetooth option for obscure reasons, but I would otherwise seriously consider to tick the box. Looking at sky while waiting at a red light has a surprising feel-good effect, something that ladies are seemingly keen to talk about endlessly.
The other reason to feel good in this Astra OPC is the seats, in leather (2500 CHF extra). Their label tells me that they are healthy for my back, they look and smell great, can be adjusted in eight different ways, including the four side bolsters, making for a perfect fit to anyone’s morphology. I spot on the dash a button to heat the steering wheel, an otherwise excellent piece of kit whose diameter has shrunk by 1cm compared to the GTC while it gained an OPC badge and metal-like inserts.
This car is equipped with the free Swiss pack, including satnav, parking sensors front and back, rear LED lights and dark windows. There’s also an Infiniti sound system which, hum, I forgot to test. The exhaust noise is that good. Skipping over a few tiny details, the interior remains pretty close to the GTC and scores points on perceived quality. Finish could be improved, for instance on the disparity between plastic surfaces, but for 44’900 CHF (41’800 with the Euro-flex bonus), you are looking at coherent value for money.