Whenever a manufacturer launches a concept car swamped by glitzy girls and thumping music somewhere like Geneva or L.A., we ooh and ahh for a little bit and then get back to solving our Sudoku puzzles.
Because it’s usually just a waste of time, showing off almost nothing production-ready. Especially the twin-turbine jet engine in the back, which is quite unlikely to be fitted to your family saloon for the next model year.
But every once in a while something dazzling comes along in concept form, and then it reaches showrooms looking just as striking – Honda’s CR-Z is a good example (too bad it’s a tortoise), the Porsche 918 Spyder could prove to be another one, the original Audi TT floored us at the time…
Now it’s the turn of that forgotten European carmaker Opel, sometimes also known as Vauxhall. These are the official images of the new Astra GTC, a sporty front-wheel drive coupé gunning straight for the venerable GTI-engined VW Scirocco, and Renault’s Megane Coupé. In Europe, its pricing will start at just over 100 grand, but there’s a lot more incentive to go for the Dh126K top-shelf model than just a low sticker.
Deriving its chassis from the über-fast and driver-focused Insignia VXR, the GTC has all the makings of becoming the first Astra that’s not painfully rubbish. It gets the company’s HiPerStrut (High Performance Strut) front suspension from the VXR, and if it can handle the saloon’s 320bhp, it can certainly handle the top-whack GTC’s 176bhp courtesy of its 1.6-litre turbo four-banger. With a 15mm lowered ride height, the option of 20in rims and wide rubber, as well as three FlexRide chassis settings– Standard, Tour or Sport – the GTC looks like a worthy rival to the B-road killing ‘Rocco.
And if the two-door Astra turns out to actually still be quite rubbish… Well, so what? Have you seen how good it looks?!
The GTC shares not a single panel with the hatchback or saloon models, staying faithful to last year’s sweet Paris concept. The profile is clean with a minimal amount of fuss except for a rear shoulder sweep and a contrasting front blade. The spoiler is integrated into the sloping roof, mimicking the corners of the taillights for a spotless finish. Opel designers even chose to match the taillamps to the headlamps, shaping them similarly and slanting them towards the insides of the car.
Next year, Opel will also prepare a VXR model with Scirocco R-thumping levels of horsepower. That is, of course, if the company is still around next year...