Opel Astra GTC will arrive in the U.S. as a Buick

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 7, 2011

General Motors is reportedly bringing the Opel Astra GTC to the U.S. but it will have a Buick badge. According to Car and Driver, GM plans to present the three-door Opel Astra GTC under the Tri-Shield brand. It will be marketed as an alternative to the Verano sedan, which shares its platform. It is expected that the three-door will have the same engine range as the Verano, including the 2.4-liter four-cylinder that can deliver 177hp and a turbocharged 2.0-liter variant that can develop 220hp.

Fans and other industry observers expect much more from the upcoming European OPC hot hatch version of the car. It’s not likely that Buick will commit the same mistakes that it had with the Saturn Astra, which was offered with its smallest engines at the time.

But it also can’t be expected that the Astra OPC will be as refined as the European counterpart since that will push up the price too much. Of course, the Buick is probably more capable than the Saturn. Its Regal sedan is essentially a rebadged Opel Insignia, while the Verano is actually a sedan version of the Astra. Opel is expected to reveal the production three-door GTC in Frankfurt this September. Development of the final product is still underway though.

Those who drive the Opel Astra GTC don’t have to choose between sentiment and practicality as they get both with this model.

It has a striking sleek look, which is the invariable nature of Opel's design language. The spacious interior has a sporty and classy ambience. The loading capacity of 1.165 liters is significantly more than that of direct competition. Mark Adams, Vice President for Design of Opel/Vauxhall explains that the Astra GTC conveys the company’s passion for cars. While this represents their most emotional vehicle yet, its functionality isn’t compromised.

Contrary to several other coupés that are usually only hatchback versions of a sedan, the Astra GTC is a stand-alone car in the Opel range of products. In terms of design, it is the sharpest looking Astra and is the very essence of a coupé and what it should be, due to its exceptional value in everyday situations. The Astra GTC does not contain any component belonging to other Astra units, except for the mounting of the aerial and rear mirror.

The design team was assigned to express its "sculptural artistry meets German precision” mission statement in a different but dynamic way. They created a car, which can be compared to a wild cat that looks about to pounce. Yet, it can be gentle and frisky at the same time.

The nature of the latest Opel design language is to reduce all features to a minimum. Malcolm Ward, Opel Exterior Design Director said that the Astra GTC interprets just that in the most radical manner. The company wanted to come up with a truly striking car that has only a number of key dynamic lines.

Only three lines generate tension and define the silhouette’s outline.

There is a fine, crisp line that runs down from the front door into the bottom of the rear fender, energizing the body side. The next line encloses the door handle and extends into the rear, highlighting the dramatic stance of the GTC by extending the surfaces to a delicate undercut and a wild shoulder. The last line follows the roof’s clean, sporty profile.

No Compromise On Design

The designers were not willing to sacrifice any aspect, especially when it came to the shoulder area of the GTC, challenging the whole engineering team. The sheet metal sections had to be pressed more deeply than usual to come up with the dominant wheelhouses and wide shoulder based on the clay model and sketch. This would not have been technically possible a few years back. A real steel door was built ahead of time so they could test the new production methods and to determine if the final product would live up to the first vision. We all know now that it did.

Andrew Dyson recalls that everything required teamwork. So the manufacturing engineers and package group were in constant communication. They had to somehow bring the emotion into its final physical design. He remembers that during the project, experts from various disciplines were engrossed in a struggle to create the best possible car.

Topics: opel, opel astra, gtc

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