Feel like Vin Diesel in an As­tra

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODTURN - SAMEER NAIK

IGREW up lov­ing VW. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I have a slight ob­ses­sion with the Ger­man brand, specif­i­cally the Golf GTIs. For me, GTIs are the ul­ti­mate cars when it comes to hatch­backs.

They set the bench­mark for hatch­backs, and I don’t see any rea­son to change my view as the Ger­man brand con­tin­ues to im­prove on their mod­els year af­ter year.

So when I was handed the keys to an Opel As­tra OPC, I found it a tad dif­fi­cult to get ex­cited about a car I had lit­tle clue about.

I had caught glimpses of the car on the roads, but didn’t know what to ex­pect. It was no Golf GTI, I thought, but what the hell, why not try out some­thing new?

The first thing that caught my eye about the OPC was the large tyres and the shiny al­loy wheels. They give that to you stan­dard? That’s not half bad.

I spent 20 min­utes ex­am­in­ing the ex­te­rior of the car be­fore jump­ing in­side. The body of the car had a mas­cu­line struc­ture to it. You have those guys who spend seven days a week at the gym, pump­ing iron non-stop. Well if the OPC were a per­son, it would be that guy – big and pow­er­ful.

The OPC also comes with a stan­dard sports kit, so the side skirts and low sus­pen­sion are part and par­cel of the car. And how can I forget the two ex­haust pipes at the back?

While the OPC looked strong and pow­er­ful on the out­side, it was by no means cer­tain that the drive would be sim­i­lar.

As I jumped in the OPC, I no­ticed the sports bucket seats. The OPC leather items had the com­fort as well as the looks.

Start­ing the en­gine of the OPC was sim­ple – but the loud roar took me to­tally by sur­prise.

I’ll be hon­est, I felt slightly in­tim­i­dated by that noise. Clearly I had un­der­es­ti­mated the car.

The first few kilo­me­tres be­hind the wheel were trav­elled with the ut­most cau­tion as I was a lit­tle wor­ried I wouldn’t be able to han­dle the raw power.

Once I got more com­fort­able, I pro­ceeded to push it a bit more, and, let me tell you, I was blown away by the power of this bad boy. I’m sure I’d just done 0-100km/h in about six sec­onds.

In spite of all that power the car’s han­dling is out­stand­ing. It shows im­mense com­po­sure on the bends. There were many times on my drive home that I felt like Vin Diesel in Fast & Fu­ri­ous.

The noise of the hatch­back, its sporty in­te­rior and the sat­is­fac­tion of leav­ing cars eat­ing dust was a beau­ti­ful feel­ing.

It caught the eyes of many mo­torists, who took the op­por­tu­nity to stare down at the car while I was wait­ing at the traf­fic lights.

When I ar­rived home I was keen to ex­plore what the car’s in­te­rior had to of­fer, not hav­ing had a chance to do so while driv­ing.

I had en­joyed the com­fort of the steer­ing wheel, but felt that the gear­stick could have been de­signed a bit bet­ter.

The car in­cludes ev­ery­thing one would ex­pect from a high-per­for­mance ve­hi­cle, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to drive in three dif­fer­ent modes. One can drive in stan­dard mode, sports mode and OPC mode.

The car also in­cludes an im­pres­sive in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with a seven-inch high-res­o­lu­tion screen. The ra­dio CD 600 In­tel­liLink in the OPC pro­vides USB in­ter­face, im­age gallery play­back, Blue­tooth hands­free, au­dio stream­ing, voice con­trol for phone and au­dio func­tions, as well as a steer­ing wheel re­mote con­trol.

A prob­lem I’ve no­ticed with hatch­backs is the lim­ited space in the back seat. But the OPC doesn’t suf­fer from this glitch. There is space for the tallest back-seat pas­sen­gers.

I wasn’t pre­pared to wait un­til the next morn­ing to drive the OPC so I hopped in the car af­ter din­ner, en­joy­ing the raw power of the car.

Hav­ing driven the Opel for more than a week, I must say it has left a last­ing im­pres­sion on me.

The sheer power, sexy ex­te­rior and com­fort of the hatch­back really changed my per­cep­tion of the brand. Pre­vi­ously I’d never paid much at­ten­tion to Opel, but driv­ing the OPC changed my mind.

Opel has taken the brand to new heights with the OPC. It’s a car that can go wheel-to-wheel with most high-per­for­mance cars on the mar­ket, in­clud­ing the Golf GTi.

Hats off to Opel for cre­at­ing a beast of a car.

REVVED UP: Get an adrenalin rush from the raw power of the Opel As­tra OPC.

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