First Look: 2012 Opel Astra GTC

2012-opel-astra-gtc

Previewed by the GTC Concept that was shown at last year's Paris Motor Show, the three-door gains its own design, more aggressive than either the five-door or the wagon, with a sharp character line running from the door handles to the rear to complement the signature Opel sideblade on the lower portion of the door carried over from others in the lineup. Slim, "eagle-eye" headlamps (complete with optional LED running lights) frame a chrome strip with the Opel badge, which rests above an large, trapezoidal lower fascia grille.

Mechanically, the GTC differs from other Astra variants by way of suspension tuning. A new front suspension incorporates GM's HiPerStrut assemblies (also found in the Insignia OPC, the Buick LaCrosse CXL, and the forthcoming Buick Regal GS) in an attempt to curb torque steer. While lesser models make do with a cost-effective beam axle in back, GTC cars receive a unique, Watt's link rear axle.

Initially, the Astra GTC will be offered with four different engine choices, each paired with a six-speed manual transmission. A turbocharged 1.4-liter I-4 is available in either 120- or 140-hp form, while a turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 throws down 180 hp. One diesel offering -- a 165-hp, 2.0-liter turbodiesel I-4 -- is available for thrifty consumers (it's expected to return 48 mpg on the European combined test cycle). Speed junkies will need to wait until 2012 for any additional power, as Opel says a high-performance OPC model should arrive sometime next year.

That's all well and good, but will the Astra GTC ever come stateside? For the time being, the answer is no, but we're curious if this shapely hot hatch could find be successful, particularly if it sneaked its way into Buick's North American lineup. Seeing as the 2012 Verano -- which launches in the U.S. later this year -- is essentially a restyled Astra, the idea isn't exactly impossible. Buick officials, however, indicate adding the three-door to the portfolio is improbable, at best.

Do you think thatthe new Astra GTC thee-door could be a nice complement to the Verano sedan, or should GM leave the hatchback as a European exclusive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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