Opel has recently made some bold claims saying it is ready to take advantage of Volkswagen’s emission scandal woes and become one of the major players in the compact hatchback segment once again with its new Astra model.
The timing is right for Opel, who has just launched its new bread and butter model, the Astra, in Frankfurt this September. In all fairness, this latest generation of Opel’s iconic hatchback doesn’t really rock the boat, but then again neither do its main competitors on the European market – the largest for this body style – such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus or Renault Megane – if we’re to ignore the growing threat from the two Korean manufacturers, Kia and Hyundai.
All the signs and rumors are also indicating that Opel is ready to revive those three letters that Opel fans craved for during the ‘80s and ‘90s: the GSi. Going as far back as the Kadett model, the GSi moniker is Opel’s classic sporty badge, but now it comes at a time when that spot is taken up by the OPC (or VXR on the UK market) abbreviation.
No worries, though, as the Opel range has room for everybody. The Astra lineup did have a significant power gap between its regular versions and the top-of-the-line OPC model, so that’s exactly where the new GSi will slot in. Think of it as a Golf GTI rival, whereas the 300 hp+ OPC will take on the Golf R when it arrives in 2017.
There is no solid information regarding the GSi’s power unit, but it’ll most likely be a highly tuned 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo, which would set it apart from the competition mentioned above, but also link it to other new models like the Peugeot 308 GTi. A diesel version could be on the cards with the most likely candidate being the engine powering last generation’s BiTurbo models.
As for the images below, the biggest tell-tales are the new front bumper that differs greatly from the one on the car behind it, as well as the larger wheels and the two exhaust tips. The Astra GSi spied here has virtually no camouflage, so we can clearly see the larger air intakes at the front linked by a chromed strip, but apart from that, there are very little visual cues to set the car apart.
The Opel Astra GSi is due to be put on sale sometime early next year, showing that Opel is moving quickly with this latest generation of its hatchback. It remains to be seen whether the GSi version will help boost the sales, but it should definitely prove popular among those who used to own one of the older models to wear this badge.