Opel shows off the high-performance chassis of the 2012 Astra GTC

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 21, 2011

Opel has released more details about its new GTC range a month after it announced its pricing. The car is expected to undercut rivals such as the Scirocco by a fair margin. Opel has started to take orders for this vehicle, which offers a more advanced front suspension setup so that the chassis is better at sticking to the road.

Several features were borrowed from the 325 hp Insignia OPC, including the HiPerStruts used on the front axle. There isn’t anything remarkable on its back but there were upgrades done on the GTC’s distinctive Watt’s link/compound crank rear end. The engine range for the GTC consists of powertrains that offer from 120 to 180hp.

They are expected to stick better to the road than the regular 3-door. Michael Harder, Opel engineering’s supervisor for vehicle dynamics, said that armed with the GTC’s dynamics, it aims to surpass the best in class.

Opel also sought to change the focus in steering and damper feel from the regular Astra 5-door to a set-up that was more concentrated. However, it should still be sufficiently comfortable for the most demanding roads in Europe and the UK.

Opel also improved the steering feel. The reduction of the steering system’s friction levels had helped as well. Due to the geometry changes that came as a result of the HiPerStruts, it means that the GTC could be given wheels that have up to 20-inches in diameter.

It also means that the car has better traction when cornering. Furthermore, the GTC’s right height became more focused by a lowering of 15 mm. Meanwhile, both tracks are now wider, by as much as 40 mm at the front and 30 mm at the back.

The new Opel Astra GTC is a car that achieves a rare combination of passionately evocative styling and practical daily reliability. With an attractively sleek silhouette, it is a true representation of the Opel design philosophy. The spacious interior has an elegantly sportive ambience. At the same time, its high 1.165-litre loading capacity surpasses all its rivals. Mark Adams, Opel/Vauxhall Vice President for Design, says that the Astra GTC is an embodiment of the company’s passion for cars. He adds that while it is their “most emotional vehicle” to date, it doesn’t compromise its functionality.

The Astra GTC is a unique model in the Opel portfolio, unlike most hatchback coupés which are derived from sedans. Of all the Astra iterations, this latest version is definitely the most strikingly designed. It is also a true coupé through and through due to its exceptional practicality for regular usage. Apart from the rear mirror and aerial, all components have been designed specifically for this car.

Opel’s mission statement is “sculptural artistry meets German precision,” and the Astra design team focused on how to interpret this in a dynamically fresh way. They were inspired by the uncompromising vision of a wild cat, with a stealthy presence and aggressive attack instincts, but which can also act playfully tender.

Opel Exterior Design Director Malcolm Ward speaks about the Astra GTC as representing the foundation of the company’s new design language, which can be explained as a “most radical interpretation” of how to “reduce everything to the maximum." Ward adds that their main automotive design aim is dynamic but has a linearly minimalist attractiveness. This is seen in the coupé’s silhouette, which is defined by only three prominent lines.

A fine sharp line streaks from the front part of the door down to the lower part of the rear fender, giving a sporty energy to the car’s appearance from the side. A second line hooks over the door handle and glides rearward to highlight the GTC’s emotive stance by seemingly expanding the surfaces to a refined undercut and a robust shoulder. A third line flows along the sleekly smooth roof outline.

Design with no compromise

The design team wanted no compromises, especially when they conceptualised the GTC’s shoulders. This set up a challenge for the engineering team. Deeper pressing was required for the sheet metal sections in order to conform to the design sketch and scale model featuring broad shoulders and muscular wheelhouses. This could not have been technically achieved even just several few years ago. An actual steel door was constructed unusually early in the development process in order to test new procedures and assess if the final car conformed to the conceptual model. It turned out that it absolutely did.

Andrew Dyson recalls how much this process necessitated teamwork and constant communication with the package group and production engineers. In order to "translate the emotional side of the sketches onto street level", Dyson recounts how experts from various disciplines competed with each other to create the best car from the design.

Topics: opel, opel astra, gtc

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