Astra DTM Racer Lapping the Nurburgring Is Proof That Opel Should Offer a V8

Introduced in 1991, the Astra is Opel's longest-running nameplate. And it soldiered on for 30 years with small-displacement four-cylinder engines only until 2015, when the Germans added three-cylinder units. But from 2000 to 2003, Opel ran a V8-powered Astra in the DTM racing series.
Opel Astra V8 Coupe DTM race car 1 photo
Developed as a replacement for the race-spec Calibra V6 4x4, the Astra V8 Coupe failed to win any DTM championships but scored a resounding victory at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 2003, against tough competition from Audi and BMW.

Opel's DTM efforts also spawned the Astra OPC X-treme, a race-inspired road car with aggressive aerodynamics and a V8 engine rated at 444 horsepower and 530 Nm (391 pound-feet) of torque. The concept attracted several customer inquiries, but Opel shelved the project before it could become a production car.

Seeing the early 2000s Astra DTM car race at the Nürburgring during the AvD Oldtimer GP makes me wonder if Opel made the right decision. Not only it looks insanely cool compared to the road-going Astra from the era, but it's also very nimble thanks to its aggressive aero package.

Of course, the race-spec, naturally aspirated V8 engine contributes with a dramatic exhaust note that makes the modern Astra sound weak. This car is proof that Opel can build a high-performance V8 car, including a road-going model that could give the premium German compacts a run for their money.

Should it happen? Definitely yes. But would it happen? It's safe to say that V8-powered Opel is completely out of the question. With all major automakers now going the downsizing and electrification routes, small cars with V8 power are a thing of the past.

And even if such a scenario were possible, the way carmakers share platforms nowadays would make it difficult for Opel to develop a V8 car that would make sense financially. It might have worked under GM ownership, but it's not an option under Groupe PSA.

Yes, I know PSA is part of Stellantis now, but it's more likely for the American brands to borrow from the European ones than the other way around. Because V8s are slowly dying, and that's pretty much why we can't have a ridiculously powerful Astra on public roads.

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