HERE is a challenge. Find more than 200 kilowatts, with this much grip, this much acceleration, with this much kit and this much fun in a new hatchback package for less.
You won't. The Astra OPC delivers bang for your performance buck with dynamite like proportions.
This squat and muscular hatch comes from the Opel Performance Center with some outrageous output characteristics.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-potter hammers out 203kW and 400Nm of torque. That's like strapping two Toyota Corolla engines into a car of the same size.
But surely all that power going to the front wheels would be just about impossible to control? Surprisingly, no.
Step inside and the Astra OPC is chic sports at its best. Chrome touches and red ambient lighting, including a strip under the shifter, break up the black colour palate.
Recaro seats offer brilliant support in just about all directions. Controls enable you to inflate or deflate the lateral support or base bolsters depending which can match how aggressive you are driving.
The pilot has a wonderful little flat-bottom sports steering wheel which really begs you to find some twisty terrain.
Typically Opel and something we've seen across the brand's three models launched in Australia, it's a busy dash with various buttons and dials. After some tutelage and analysis the operations start to become second-nature.
It's a little like being on a first date. Things are a little awkward at the start, but get to know each other you'll find there's plenty to like about the set-up.
Like all three-door hatches, the best positioning is up front. But space in the back is surprisingly good and average-size adults can fit behind the two front pews (after a little callisthenics).
On the road
Turn the key and a lovely aural note fills the cabin. The burble is distinctly sporty which only improves with encouragement from your right foot.
Pulling hard from 2000rpm the Astra OPC will work up to the redline and feels every bit as quick as the 0-100kmh sprint time of six seconds flat indicates.
Jump on the accelerator and the hatch wiggles and squirms like you would expect, there is a hint of torque steer despite the sophisticated technology, but not enough to interrupt your confidence.
Steering is direct and super quick which makes easy work of changes in direction. "Sport" and "OPC" buttons are the driver's friend, the latter giving the dials an angry red hue. They also sharpen the steering and acceleration responses, as well as decreasing the stability and traction control interference.
What do you get?
Everything is thrown into the Astra OPC, including sat nav, leather-clad Recaro front seats, sports steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity, dual zone air-con, body kit and alloys. There isn't much on the options list, but probably worth adding would be the one-inch larger alloys for $1000 and metallic paint (only white is standard).
Boy racers will love a PowerApp which provides masses of analysis information such as engine boost pressure, throttle position, lateral acceleration and torque… which would enter the "too much information" realm for most.
Some other hot hatches worth considering are the Renault Megane RS265 Cup ($42,640), Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport ($49,900), BMW 135i M Sport (from $83,800), Volkswagen Golf GTi (from $38,990) and the Subaru WRX STi ($59,990).
Average fuel consumption is above eight litres for every 100km, which is not bad for the performance the Astra delivers. Insurance may cause an issue for some, and could need shopping around.
Four adults can find comfort in the Astra OPC and three could fit across the back seat at a stretch.
Access to the child seat anchorage points is simple, and the boot is impressively deep.
There are ample cup/bottle holders and some good storage spots in the centre of the cabin.
Crouched and athletic with pumped up wheel arched and big Brembo brakes, the Astra OPC is a stunning little hatch.
Heads turn at the sporting exhaust note, and onlookers returned for a closer look…albeit some were baffled at the badge.
What matters most
The good stuff: Lovely sporting exhaust note, Recaro seats, outstanding grip, exterior styling.
What we'd like to see: Reversing camera, improved rear vision, less buttons - but that seems to be the Opel trademark, automatic option.
Warranty and servicing: Backed by a three-year 100,000km warranty. The first three years or 45,000km the maximum scheduled services are $349 for the Astra OPC.
Opel is still battling for brand awareness Down Under. This Astra is a wonderful pin-up for the marque with a brilliant silhouette and ripped appearance. Performance doesn't come much more affordable than this hot hatch which is pure fun.
Model: Astra OPC.
Details: Three-door front-wheel drive small sports hatch.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 206kW @ 5300rpm and peak torque of 400Nm 2400-4800rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed manual.
Consumption: 8.1 litres/100km.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 6.0 seconds.
Bottom line: $42,990.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.