Here is a glimpse of what a Holden Astra performance model may look like in the brand’s fully imported era after 2017.
This Astra doesn’t wear OPC, GTC or VXR badges that we’ve usually come to associate with European Opel-derived performance Holden models, but rather is tagged TCR – the official name of an affordable customer racing series that began this year across the Continent and some parts of Asia.
Opel is already preparing to take the next-gen Astra for its first public outing at the Frankfurt motor show in September, despite the small hatchback having only just landed in Australia again wearing the encircled Lion on its snout.
In a similar one-step-ahead move, the Opel motorsport division has got to the new Astra before its road-going sports division Opel Performance Centre (OPC) has released its newest hottie.
While it is those OPC production versions that will be most relevant locally – the current Holden Astra VXR is a carbon copy of the Opel Astra OPC – this motorsport TCR version does run a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 246kW and 410Nm.
TCR international series rules keeps racing cheap by mandating that models entering be heavily based on a production car with 2.0-litre turbo capacity. There is no such new performance Astra yet, although the current VXR makes a similar 206kW/400Nm. The new VXR should make similar numbers, yet it is guaranteed to follow the regular versions of the new generation model by weighing much less than the portly 1543kg of the current car – so expect faster times.
The styling cues certainly show what a future fast Holden hatchback will look like. If the next Astra VXR is a year or two behind the regular models shown at Frankfurt, as is expected, then the new model should lob around the same time that local Commodore production ends in 2018.
The Astra TCR will also be shown at Frankfurt before beginning testing in October and racing from 2016 against the same competitors it lines up against on the showroom floor, such as Civic and Focus.
Volkswagen has also shown off its next-year entrant, a Mark VII Golf racer that uses a 243kW/410Nm version of the Golf R engine, but in a Golf GTI front-wheel drive chassis (widened by a massive 40 centimetres).
The series takes to circuits such as Sepang (Malaysia), Monza (Italy) and Salzburgring (Austria).