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Opel Astra OPC hot hatch on the way

Opel says the Astra OPC will lap the ‘Ring in a staggering 8 minutes and 35 seconds.

The Euro-built hatch - previewing at the Australian International Motor Show - will compete with Volkswagen's Scirocco R and the RenaultSport Megane RS265 for the premium performance hatch role and Opel is promising a high level of specification in the car to justify an expected mid-$40,000 price.

The car has been widely expected as the hero model in the Opel range and with a class-leading 206kW/400Nm from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it shouldn't disappoint. Opel is stating a 0-100km/h time of six seconds flat for the two-door coupe, which is based on the sportily styled Opel Astra GTC.

Beyond the engine, exterior changes include side skirts and deeper front and rear bumpers, a pair of trapezoidal exhausts, 19-inch alloy wheels and a limited-slip diff that helps the "HiPerStrut" front suspension improve roadholding for the front-wheel drive car A bespoke Brembo braking system, headlined by ventilated 355mm front discs help slow the hatch down. The system was tested in a 10,000km high-speed endurance run on the Nurburgring track in Germany, so it should survive the worst Australian drivers can throw at it.

Opel says the Astra OPC will lap the ‘Ring in a staggering 8 minutes and 35 seconds. That time is within 30 seconds for the record 8min08sec time set by the recently launched Megane RS265, but the Renault doesn't have the same level of creature comforts as European-spec OPCs, giving the Opel an edge in the luxury stakes.

The OPC also uses a variable three-mode "FlexRide" damper system, running Standard, Sport and OPC settings. Sport stiffens the dampers to improve control, but it is the OPC mode that gets interesting. Here, the system improves throttle response, sets the dampers to their maximum level and reduces improves roll. The instrument lighting changes from white to red in OPC mode to remind the driver they've truly entered hot hatch territory.

Opel will release pricing and specification closer to next year's launch, but those at the motor show should take a long, hard look at the display car.