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VW Scirocco R versus Opel Astra OPC and Renault Mégane R.S .: Hot wind or mild breeze?

Rossen Gargolov
VW Scirocco R against Opel Astra OPC and Renault Mégane RS
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W do you remember, back then?! Don't you already sometimes think today who has what it takes to become the cult athlete of tomorrow? Today the youngtimer community celebrates wild guys like the Lancia Delta Integrale. And who will be the compact hero of the future? Whether we even care about Opel Astra OPC, Renault Mégane R.S. and want to remember VW Scirocco R, this time the character test in Hockenheim clarifies.

Opel Astra OPC hisses to speak

Deactivate ESP, press the OPC button, the lighting of the The instrument cluster changes from innocent white to fire red. Let's go - from a lateral dynamics point of view, the Opel Astra OPC is now ready for any outrage in a comparative test. OPC mode means the steering and accelerator pedal characteristics are as sharp as possible and the damper setting is as tight as possible. The 300 hp four-cylinder turbo of the Opel Astra OPC grumbles and hisses and wants to mimic the racetrack buddy with the first full throttle syllable. At 1,553 kilos, however, the Power-Astra is significantly fuller than its rivals Mégane and Scirocco, both of which weigh 1,409 kilos. Can that go well on the small circuit?

Even if the OPC team couldn't turn the Opel Astra into a light-footed sprinter, but at best a trained football player, it's always fascinating, like a successful suspension set -up can hide automobile excess weight.

In OPC mode, the Astra rolls only a little in the limit area, and the side tilt remains low. Thanks to the good pedal feel and fine ABS control frequency, precise braking points can be set with the Brembo system. As a result, despite its weight, the Opel Astra OPC can be surprisingly motivated to brake into the curve. It follows the ideal line precisely not only when braking. In the comparison test, the Opel Astra OPC steers in largely without spoiling understeer and does not push over the front axle when accelerating out under load, which in many other front-wheel drive cars on the racetrack exudes about as much eroticism as fine rib underwear.

Hooked manual gearbox in the OPC

So that the pleasure factor traction is not spoiled under load, a mechanical multi-disc limited slip differential from Drexler works on the front axle. What about the relieved inside front wheel under loadout? No noticeable attacks of slip.

Thanks to the mechanical lock, you can accelerate again early in the curve. Quite as aggressively as the lock pulls the Corsa OPC Nürburgring Edition around the corner, the Opel Astra OPC does not pull itself into the curve. Everyday fans will praise the low drive influences in the steering, for us the locking effect should be even more pronounced.

Compared to the VW Scirocco R, the forces of the adaptive steering are higher - but this robust character only comes in the OPC Mode on. In normal mode, the Astra steering looks rather synthetic. The compact from Rüsselsheim gets the full broadside for its manual transmission. Sorry, the crooked lane route is annoying and beams us back to the decades when H-shifts with four speed levels were the highest of feelings.

The OPC developers can do it much better. The series transmission was effectively modified in the one-make cup racing series Astra OPC Cup, which is held with racing cars of the same name. In order to achieve better shiftability, among other things, the shift travel was shortened - please adapt for the street version!

Opel Astra OPC trumps in Hockenheim on

Even if the series OPC remains neutral for a long time at the limit, the excess weight in the limit area can no longer be discussed away at some point. The Opel Astra OPC could do a lot more if it were lighter. Finally give yourself a jolt in the Opel boardroom and bring the Astra OPC Extreme study presented at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in a small series. Thanks to carbon fiber components, the OPC Extreme should weigh 100 kilos less. In addition, the Über-Astra should finally be able to carry semi-slicks and, with 320 hp, do as much as the OPC Cup racing car.

But the current Opel Astra OPC also trumps in Hockenheim. The important thing is to make the best possible use of the peak of the turbo engine and to turn a maximum of 5,500 rpm, although 1,000 tours would still be possible after that. Who upshifts early, circles the course with 1.16.5 minutes four tenths of a second faster than in the super test (sport auto 12/2012) .

Renault Mégane RS leaves Astra

Where the journey can go when the OPC department is finally allowed to implement their ideas in full, Renault has long been showing with the Mégane RS: Race mode activated, ESP deactivated, accelerator response sharp how Chili - let's go. The Renault Mégane R.S. hissed in his pilot's ear with even less insulation material than the Astra. Its 265 PS two-liter four-cylinder with twin-scroll turbocharger revs up subjectively more pleasurably than the 15 PS more OPC. No wonder, after all, it has to drag 144 kilos less.

Objectively, the Renault Mégane R. S. also works in theComparison test better than the compact with the flash. The Frenchman completed the sprint to 200 km /h 2.6 seconds faster than the Rüsselsheimer. On the small course, the slower OPC acceleration is reflected in the top speed on the start-finish straight: 175 km /h (Opel Astra OPC) versus 178 km /h (Renault Mégane RS).

Brake, use the steering wheel with a small correction on the steering wheel, align the hot hatch for the next bend, then turn precisely and accelerate before the apex of the bend - for the Renault Mégane RS it is worth changing your denomination - from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. Hardly any other compact sports car delivers such direct steering characteristics and, thanks to its mechanical differential lock (max. 35 percent locking effect), pulls itself out of the corners so without slipping.

Chattering teeth on bumps

Thumbs up for your uncompromising attitude, Renault! We also don't complain about the drive influences in the steering and the chattering of teeth on bumps, which when ordering the optional cup package (surcharge 1,590 euros) characterize the RS experience like the lock, harder springs and tighter dampers> The Renault Mégane RS shines thanks to the 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Cup 2 sports tires (1,750 euros) available from Renault accessories with a sensational grip level and deceleration values ​​of up to 12.1 m /s² on the short course. Not only on the racetrack, but also with the standard brake measurement from 100 km /h, the Renault Mégane R.S. At 34.4 meters, the Opel Astra OPC (35.5 m) and the VW Scirocco R (36.1 m) look old as expected in the comparison test - thanks to the Cup tires. On the racetrack, the brakes can be precisely adjusted with good pedal feedback. The ABS of the Mégane regulates with a similarly suitable control frequency as the ABS of the Opel.

And the lap time? With 1.15.4 minutes, the current test car leaves all previous Mégane-R. S. models clearly behind them. This also includes the 273- PS special model Trophy (1.16.3 min), which was also equipped with Michelin Cup 2 tires, but had to start in midsummer temperatures.

VW Scirocco R super inconspicuous

Up until now we were in a great mood on the test day in Hockenheim. After the first lap on the race track in the VW Scirocco R, this emotional state suddenly changes. As in an employee interview, however, we start with praise, not criticism. The R version, first presented in 2009, has now been given a facelift like all other Scirocco models. Newly designed bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights, a modified front and rear apron, a new wheel design - the moderate changes to the bodyworkgive the VW Scirocco, which up to now has been a bit chubby-looking, especially at the rear, a well-trained appearance.

What else can the VW Scirocco R except look good? Thanks to its adaptive chassis control DCC, it plays the relaxed everyday companion in comfort mode, who handles all bumps more gallantly than the Opel Astra OPC and Renault Mégane R.S. irons away. In addition, there are comparatively softly padded sports seats that don't pinch even on long-distance trips. The VW Scirocco R is super comfortable, but also super inconspicuous. Every trip in the tough dog Mégane, even if it is just to get a sandwich, is more clearly stuck in the memory. We're just more into corners and edges.

Is that also available on the VW Scirocco R? Can he also play the wild lateral dynamics rocker that the test author once got to know on the racetrack during two guest starts in the Scirocco R-Cup? In the recently launched one-make cup, air pressures of up to 4 bar were used on the rear axle to combat the chronic front-wheel drive disease 'understeer'. With a loose tail, the Sciroccos then fought bumper to bumper and sometimes robbed curbs on two wheels in a wild angle. The series version in Hockenheim cannot ignite transverse dynamic happiness like its former racing brother.

VW Scirocco R in 22.7 seconds to 200 km /h

The only bright spot: the 15 to 280 hp strengthened two-liter four-cylinder turbo, which can not only sound good with a rough bass, but also the VW Scirocco R in 22.7 seconds faster than Astra OPC (26.4 s) and Mégane RS (23.8 s) accelerated from 0 to 200 km /h. At 5.0 kg /hp, the Scirocco also offers the best power-to-weight ratio of the trio. The manual six-speed gearbox can also be shifted much more pleasantly than with the competition. But longitudinal dynamic torque alone does not lead to the best time on the racetrack.

Especially when braking in the limit range, the Scirocco ABS with inharmonious control frequency shows clear weaknesses compared to the compact sports car competitors Astra OPC and Renault Mégane R.S. This creates little trust at the absolute limit. Braking into the corners? Almost impossible in the VW Scirocco R. Only early braking points help here. Earlier than the sports driver's heart actually wants. Compared to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (Astra) and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (Mégane), the moderate grip level of the Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires looks a bit old.

VW Scirocco R is not a racetrack hero

Just like tires with a higher grip level, you want the VW Scirocco R instead of the electronically simulated locking function XDS, which is part of the ESP, prefers the regulated front axle differential lock, which is built into the GTI Performance and Seat Leon Cupra 280. The VW Scirocco R could compete with Opel and Renaultthe traction manhunt in Hockenheim rather at eye level. At the moment he can't do that.

Unlike Renault Mégane R.S. and Opel Astra OPC, the ESP in the VW Scirocco R cannot be completely deactivated, you can only increase the intervention threshold in sport mode via the ESC button. Air pressure gimmicks on the rear axle as once in the Scirocco Cup can therefore confidently be omitted - the ESP immediately regulates motivated load change tail swings. The only thing that helps here is a driving style that is as clean as possible and that is just below the ESP intervention threshold. To be honest, such a character has no place on the racetrack. It doesn’t help that the VW Scirocco R is halfway fast around the small course in 1.16.8 minutes.

Unlike Astra OPC and Mégane R.S. the third generation of Scirocco threatens the Lancia Delta Syndrome more than ever. Have you never heard that before? While people rave about the Integrale Evo levels of the first Delta generation, sports drivers have long since deleted the successor models from their minds.

Before the current Scirocco has a similar fate, its positioning in the VW should be considered - Rethink the company. Or why is a Seat Leon Cupra 280 with Michelin Cup tires allowed to play the lateral dynamics hero - but not a Scirocco R?

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