Just announced in Europe is the 2012 Opel Astra OPC, a 280-horsepower super hatchback with an appetite for the upcoming Ford Focus ST. Packing the same engine as our Buick Regal GS sports sedan, albeit boosted 10 horsepower to 280, the Astra weighs significantly less, comes with more high-performance features, and should be a formidable threat against most any car this side of a Corvette.
The question is, though: Is it coming to the U.S. anytime soon?
You may remember the last Astra making it to the States briefly as a Saturn. Underpowered and outdated from the start, it didn’t stand a chance when it got here. It left production when Saturn folded in the wake of General Motors’ 2009 bankruptcy.
But this new car shares many of its components with the Buick Verano and Chevrolet Cruze, as well as the engine and HiPer strut electronic suspension from the Regal GS. In fact, the Opel Astra is sold alongside the Verano in Buick showrooms in China as the same model line.
It’s a hatchback that can hit 155 mph and comes packed with high-performance technology. It fills a void left open in GM’s lineup since discontinuing the turbocharged Chevrolet Cobalt SS, and it’s bound to be refined enough to tackle the likes of the 247-horsepower 2012 Ford Focus ST and upcoming 256-horsepower 2012 Volkswagen Golf R in the premium performance hatchback segment.
No word has come from GM’s North American offices suggesting that it will come here, but a little hope never hurt anyone. Do you think the Opel Astra OPC should reach U.S. shores? Or would it work better as a high-performance version of the Chevy Cruze? The better question running through the heads of GM execs is whether enough people would buy such an extreme niche product to justify it.