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Opel Astra Turbo Coupe

An elegant tourer

Opel Turbo Coupé
km reading: 66
1998ccm 16-valve turbo-charged in-line 4 cylinder petrol
140kw @ 5400rpm
250Nm @ 1950rpm
0-100km/h: 7.5 seconds
v.max: 245km/h
Ave. consumption: 8.9L/100km

"Opels are boring" said a family member, after I had phoned them up and excitedly told them about my test drive. It turns out they didn't know what the Turbo Coupe looks like, or that it has a "Bertone" badge on either side. Bertone being an established and sucessful italian automotive designer, this Opel bears testimony to his skill and style of design. Sure I've seen more exciting cars, but you probably couldn't afford them even if you won the Lotto jackpot.

The Astra Coupe has a sort of reserved good look to it. Coupes always do, and the Opel does have a look of its own. You'll be forgiven for thinking it's a 2-door Astra, because the car houses a multitude of design elements that set it apart from its little brother.
Something I'm not perticularly fond of, but which works well with the golden colour, is the broad chrome strip on the tailgate. I didn't want to pry it off and see what the car looks like without it, so I'll reserve my final judgement...

The third brake light is integrated into the bootlid, these perticular 16 inch wheels are only available for the Coupe, and the front headlights are smoked/tinted. The salesperson informed us that the car was also available with 17 inch alu's, and that combination would look better. As it was, I didn't find anything wrong with their look or size, but I agree that thinner sidewalls and a fatter spread of rubber on the tar could only make it more butch.
The trademark oval exhaust tip is chromed, the front airdam features foglights, and the roof even has provisions for roof-carriers. A picture in the car's brochure revealed that these optional extras don't actually look too bad, when utilized to carry some insanely expensive poser ski's.

The inside is just as pretty, with soft leather covering all seating surfaces and the steering wheel. The plush carpets and chrome door sills carry a "Turbo" logo, which did make me shiver at the thought of a similar (but much, much cheaper) carpet from your local autoparts store.

Nonetheless, this interior screams quality and excellent craftsmanship. The seats don't only look good, they offer good support and comfort as well. The steering wheel is easy to grip and offers extra hold on the back of the rim, just above the centre of the wheel. (...) The steering colomn is height adjustable, but both my friend and myself are over 1,9m tall and wished for a few more cm's of upward movement. The steering wheel didn't get in the way, but it was kinda hard to read the top of the white dials. The lettering and layout of these is simple but tasteful, and very easy to read. Turn the lights on, and they get an orange/red tint.

A big favourite was the aluminium gearknob. Cold to the touch at first, it obviously warms up and lends a completely new character opposed to say, a plastic or leather-covered gearshift knob. It's a sensation close to that of a wooden gearshifter, but coupled to the matte metal look of the facia, it uplifts the centre of the otherwise black leather interior.

The car was warmed up a bit for us, but still took an astonishingly long time to reach its normal operating temperature. All through this period of about 6 to 7 minutes, the gearshifts were smooth and precise. Granted, it is a new car, but I still expected the odd little grind or scratch.
Once up to temperature, I REALLY regretted this car being brand-new. We promised to look after it well, not to drive it too far, and we had to fight our inner deamons to keep that promise.

Once warmed up and out of town, the Turbo Coupé tempts its driver to reach for the horizon with a super-responsive accellerator and bags of power on tap. More than once I had to keep myself from planting the gas pedal into the plush carpet, and the rev-counter did reach 4 thousand ticks once or twice.
Unlike the Audi A3 Turbo's 1,8 litre turbo engine, I found the turbo-gap or spin-on period to be minimal on this car. Where the Audi refused to pull at 30km/h in third gear, the Opel starts marching already.
I'm not trying to drag the A3 down, it's still my favourite hatchback, and the Opel Turbo Coupé shares its freeway enthusiasm. Get the revs in the region of 1500 in ANY gear, and you can comfortably accellerate on. How much faster the car would be at full throttle, that can only be determined in another 930km...
By this stage we had 70km on the clock and decided to stop for the photoshoot.

Parked on the side of a dead-end street at the end of town, we noticed just how big those doors are. For some daily entertainment, the Turbo Coupe even rolls down the window about a centimeter when opening a door, and rolls it back up again when the door is closed.
But it's part of owning a coupé, getting to grips with the huge doors. It seems, we weren't the only ones who had trouble coming to terms with them. A white Toyota Landcruiser VX(insert more arbitrary letters here) found the opened driver's door so disturbing on the deserted one-way street that he passed within a few centimetres of it and hooted prefusely.
Nice one, Land-Cruiser-Man. Are you simply not aware of how huuuuge that tank of yours is, or are you afraid to venture too close to the rough and untamed side of the road with your baby?

The morning sun bounced off the beautiful golden paintwork and made for some disturbing difference in colour. What looks like a cameleon in the pics turned out to be a solid gold car back in the shade of the dealership. We took a few more pics and then switched seats, me in the passenger's one this time. From there I could start investigating the car while on the move, finding that even with two tall guys upfront, there was still a bit of legroom at the back.

Pulling away from standstill, even with the accellerator just halfway down, and not surpassing 4000rpm, the car takes off beautifully. There's a hint of a grumble from the exhaust pipe, but only from 3000rpm onwards, and only when the throttle is pressed. Again, I'd love to experience the car at a later stage when it's been run in. We opened both our windows and listened carefully... sure enough, we could hear the turbine ever so slightly. This coupled with the exhaust note made for a reasonably sporty driving experience, although the driving position and performance of the car take the cake.
The sleek lines and golden colour turned a few heads, although I'd bet the latter had more to do with it. We viewed the exact same car in a dark blue colour, and it just wasn't as stunningly beautiful as 'our' golden one.

Heading back to the dealership, we darted down Alexander street at just under 60km/h. This road is renowned for a surface which resembles that of the Moon, but the Coupe stayed unruffled and composed all the way down to the traffic circle. No shakes, no hops, no squeeks. The seats and suspension proved to be on the sporty (i.e.hard) side, but then we already knew that, didn't we? The speed bump wasn't a problem either, the Coupe's damping is a tad hard but won't rattle your teeth out. I think the emphasis obviously rests on sporty driving, throwing the Coupe around the twisties. Unfortunately, I can't report on that either.

As we reluctantly returned the key we both realised that this car would feature strongly on our Jackpot shopping list. It doesn't have the street cred of the TT or the Beetle, but it deserves a spot in the garages of the young and trendy. It might only be an Opel, but it's a sleek, elegant and sporty Opel. Then again, isn't a Beetle just another Volkswagen with a mass-produced cheap history? Should you be looking for an elegant and very capable means of transport, don't have any offspring yet and need to break away from the GTi and Beetle brigade, this is the car for you. Your friendly local Opel dealer is PORT DELTA on Bird Street, who we'd like to thank for kindly letting us drive this beauty.

For:
Looks
Performance
Brakes
Interior

Against:
I can't afford one
No street cred

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