06 Oct 2011
The all-new Opel Astra GTC comes to South Africa fresh from its world debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show just weeks ago.The dynamic styling with its sculpted profile sets this model apart in the compact coupe market. Public interest is such that prior to the first official showing of the vehicle Opel had received more than 15 000 orders, effectively sight unseen.
Unlike most other three-door versions of existing hatch competitors the Astra GTC has been styled as a stand-alone model in the range. Although based on the Astra platform, the only common exterior elements shared with other members of the Astra family are the exterior rear view mirror surrounds and the radio antenna.
Maximum emotion expressed with just three clean lines
The design brief given to the Astra GTC engineering team was to deliver the ultimate expression of Opel’s design language of ‘sculptural artistry meets German precision’ as applied to its current model range. A consideration was overall functionality of the final design.
To define the dramatic profile of the vehicle the designers limited themselves to the use of just three key styling lines to create tension and the impression of a sculpted form. The first of these lines is a fine one that sweeps downward from the side door to the bottom of the rear fender and energises the appearance of the body side.
A second styling line encapsulates the door handle and stretches to the rear, emphasising the GTC’s dramatic stance by spreading the surfaces between a fine undercut and a broad shoulder. The third styling line is emphasised in chrome and follows the clean, sporty silhouette of the roof to accentuate the side window profile and guide the eye to the integrated spoiler.
The shoulder element of the GTC is the most dramatic. Its powerful design provides the car with imposing proportions and a purposeful presence on the road, highlighting the low, road-hugging stance of the vehicle.
The clean frontal design features Opel’s signature centreline crease and is accented by slim ‘eagle-eye’ styled headlamps defined by ‘wing-shaped’ daytime running lights. These bracket the bar mounted chrome emblem that splits the dramatically shaped trapezoidal grille that imparts a distinct sporty flavour to the frontal styling.
A further defining element of the frontal design is the latest version of Opel’s panoramic windshield concept. Opel engineers filed no less than 11 patents in the development of this element of the new Astra GTC. The windscreen extends seamlessly from the bonnet line up into the roof-line as far back as the ‘B’ pillar. With no intrusive cross-member it offers occupants a unique sense of space and visibility with an extensive field of vision.
Advanced front suspension design
The Astra GTC features Opel’s advanced HiPerStrut front suspension, the first time that this system has been implemented on an Astra model.
Ideally suited for a compact coupé, HiPerStrut delivers improved ride and handling characteristics as well as a more direct steering response, all desirable characteristics for more enthusiastic drivers. This system uses the Astra’s original suspension pick-up points but reduces the kingpin inclination angle by 44 percent and shortens the spindle length by 46 percent versus the McPherson strut system fitted to other Astra models.
These features assist in a significant reduction of torque steer – a common occurrence in high performance front wheel drive cars. The HiPerStrut front suspension geometry allows the Astra GTC driver to fully enjoy the high performance of the vehicle without the steering being compromised by torque steer under hard acceleration and when changing gear.
The HiPerStrut system also reduces camber change on the front wheels during cornering to improve grip and thus road holding and stability. Steering feel is enhanced by a reduction in friction levels. A further bonus is that this latest front suspension from Opel allows for wheels of up to 20 inches in diameter to be fitted to the GTC.
Compound crank/Watt’s link rear suspension enhances lateral stability
The Astra GTC features an enhanced compound crank or Watt’s link type rear suspension layout to compliment the HiPerStrut front suspension. Roll stiffness and roll-centre height have been optimised for the GTC.
This layout has several advantages over more common modern multi-link rear suspension designs, including more compact packaging, less susceptibility to camber change, and reduced friction in the system. The Watt’s link ensures a high level of lateral stability under even the harshest of cornering conditions.
The Watt’s link is mounted on a small cross-member attached to the underside of the car just behind the rear wheel centre line. It comprises of a pivoting centre link with a ball joint mounted at each end to which the lateral links to the wheel hubs are connected.
In straight line driving conditions this set up ensures excellent stability - when cornering it serves to minimize lateral deflection of the rear suspension. The Watt’s linkage absorbs as much as 80 percent of all lateral loads on the suspension.
A further edge to the excellent ride and handling characteristics of the Astra GTC is provided by the integration of Opel’s intelligent, fully adaptive FlexRide chassis control system, fitted to the top of the range variants. FlexRide enhances automatically adapts the suspension to varying road conditions, cornering speed, vehicle movements, and individual driving styles. The overall improvement to vehicle balance and stability provided by FlexRide provides for improved vehicle control in emergency situations.
FlexRide offers three different suspension settings that allow the car’s character to be adapted to the driver’s requirements at the push of a button. There is a choice of ‘Standard Mode’; a comfort oriented ‘Touring Mode’; and the performance optimised ‘Sport Mode’.
Direct steering response inspires confidence
Precision, feedback, and confidence were the criteria set for the development of the Astra GTC’s uniquely tailored power steering system. The challenge was to maintain a light steering effort at low speeds but to dial in better feel and response together with a slightly greater steering effort at higher speeds.
The GTC’s steering system is a rack and pinion system with speed sensitive electronic power assistance. In order to ensure the best level of driver feel and steering feedback, the power assistance electric motor is mounted directly on the steering rack, as opposed to the traditional mounting position on the steering column.
Modern electric power steering systems provide a number of benefits. They are more easily programmed for varying driving conditions and importantly they are more energy efficient than hydraulic based systems that require power directly from the vehicle’s engine.
Compact sports performance with excellent economy
Top end Astra GTC models are offered with a 1,6 litre turbo charged 132 kW petrol engine – good for 220 km/h, or a 121 kW common rail turbo diesel engine. Six-speed manual transmissions are fitted across the range. A high performance OPC version of the GTC is under development for introduction during 2012.
Top end driver assistance features
The Astra GTC is at the top of the compact coupé league when it comes to driver assistance features. Amongst these is the latest generation “Opel Eye” front camera with enhanced “Traffic Sign Recognition” that can identify a wide range of traffic signs including traffic restricted signs and speed restriction signs. The system also provides a “Lane Departure Warning” and a “Following Distance Indication” that keeps the driver visually informed of the distance to the vehicle ahead.
Opel’s fourth generation Bi-Xenon Advanced Forward Lighting (AFL) system debuts on the GTC. Functions include High Beam Assist that switches the high beams on or off depending on the presence of other vehicles and Intelligent Light Ranging, a system that uses the Opel Eye front camera to measure the distance to a vehicle ahead and adjust the low beam pattern to avoid dazzling the driver in front. The AFL system allows lighting to be continually optimised without blinding other drivers.
Sporty but practical
The Astra GTC does not compromise on functionality despite its coupe design. It offers comfortable seating for five adults with a flexible luggage compartment that will hold between 380 litres and 1165 litres – more than 100 litres more than other vehicles in its class – depending on the seat configuration. Storage areas inside the vehicle are also voluminous.
The high quality interior combines sculptured shapes and dynamic lines for a distinctly sporty character enhanced by the choice of upholstery fabrics and colours.
About General Motors – General Motors, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 202,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 30 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Italy GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.
Images may show optional equipment.