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Opel Astra GTC - Europe launch

Broadcast dates : 23rd January 2005
27th January 2005


A new dynamic energy at Opel has seen the European division at General Motors produce a string of exciting models in the past year.

In South Africa, the launch of the new Astra has been received with excitement, and in fact the Astra is a contender for 2005 Car-of-the-Year honours with a strong chance of taking the title in March.

Talking of March, thatís when the new two-litre turbocharged model is being launched here in South Africa, and also when the new GTC goes on sale in Europe.

The GTC is one dramatic-looking coupe and is a direct development of the GTC concept vehicle shown at motor shows last year.

A striking feature of the new three-door Astra is its so-called panorama windshield option which not only gives the car a racy appearance but is said to add greatly to visibility and a sense of space.

The panorama screen extends all the way to the B pillar or central door post, and some Opel insiders describe driving the GTC as an experience not far removed from flying.

Opel is well known for its high-performance engines here, and many experts reckon the company produced the finest four-cylinder engines in the world.

But a shift in emphasis to economy and environmental concerns saw Opelís suffer from rather mediocre power delivery.

Thatís all changed under the companyís new boss man, Carl Peter Foster, who once headed up BMWís plant here in South Africa.

Evidence of the dynamism at play in Russelsheim in Germany where Opel is based, is the cute funky Tigra Twin Top, a small sports car with the emphasis on fun and high-style.

The Tigra has already won numerous overseas awards, and it may just make an appearance here sometime.

Performance is very much back on the agenda at Opel, and the company does much of its development at the famous Nurburgring circuit.

Some twenty-two kilometres of undulating road and a claimed 170 bends each lap, tests a car to its ultimate.

Scenes like this will encourage many die-hard Opel fans to a return to racetracks in South Africa.

If Opel does go racing, a car like the GTC could be the ultimate weapon. Itís bound to be a winner on the street, and with the right engine, it could take the fight to the likes of BMW and Alfa Romeo.

The GTC is planned for local introduction towards the end of the year.

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