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Opel's wild Astra OPC screams into SA

Superboss fans, eat your heart out… the new Opel Astra OPC has just landed in South Africa and it's ready to give the hot hatch pack a serious dice. At a price.

The 206kW Opel goes on sale at a steep R435 000, and it'll go head-to-head with the cheaper (R399 900), 195kW Renault Megane RS; with BMW's 235kW rear-wheel drive M135i lurking ominously as an alternative slightly up the price ladder at R458 814. Let's not forget Audi's imminent S3 and the Golf 7 R that the Opel will eventually have to fend off.

Nonetheless, the Astra OPC offers some serious tar-stripping grunt - it is the most powerful production Astra ever created. Its 2-litre direct injection turbopetrol motor pushes 206kW at 5500rpm and 400Nm between 2500 and 4500rpm. That, says Opel, is enough to launch it from zero to 100 kays an hour in 6.2 seconds and to a (governed) top speed of 250km/h.

Average fuel consumption, according to official figures, has been cut by 12 percent to just 8.11 litres per 100km. Good luck achieving this.

HI-PER STRUTS, LSD

To help the front-wheel drive hatch harness its power, Opel engineers put some serious effort into the chassis and braking systems. The front suspension incorporates high-performance struts and you'll find a Watt's Link set-up at the back. The OPC also has a mechanical limited slip diff and heat-resistant Brembo brakes.

What's more, the driver can personalise the chassis characteristics and steering response via three different driving modes offered by the FlexRide chassis system and there is a trio of ESP settings - including completely off.

Your other friend, in hard cornering, is the OPC division's set of 20-inch alloys, which come standard along with a styling kit that won't allow this OPC to be mistaken for a tamer GTC.

Inside, you'll sink into lightweight performance-type bucket seats and look ahead to a flat-bottom steering wheel.

Denis Droppa got to grips with the new OPC at Kyalami on Monday and for his full impressions, see the motoring supplement in your copy of The Star, Pretoria News, Cape Times or Mercury this Thursday.

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