Opel's Astra arrives in SA soon and those hankering for something new may opt for the panoramic view offered by the three-door GTC version displayed at this month's Paris Motor Show.

Opel's Astra arrives in SA soon and those hankering for something new may opt for the panoramic view offered by the three-door GTC version displayed at this month's Paris Motor Show.

The GTC (Gran Turismo Concept) was designed as a unique model based on the existing technology and equipment offered in the five-door Astra - due in SA towards the end of October.

Astra's chief designer, Friedhelm Engler, was adamant that the GTC was not simply about "reducing the number of doors on an existing model". Following the car's sloping roofline, the panoramic windscreen extends seamlessly over the front seats to the B-pillar to create a cabin that feels extremely roomy and spacious.

Constructed from heat-absorbing glass, it offers further respite from glaring sunlight by means of a shading system with two fold-out visors.

The windscreen is shaped in a so-called “gravity bending” process, in which the glass is heated to a point at which it is pulled into its predetermined state by gravity.

But Opel claims that, despite the extensive glass area, passenger safety has not been compromised, thanks to the use of six-millimetre thick safety glass..

The five-door version recently received a five-star EuroNCAP rating and Opel claims that in several tests conducted the new windscreen upheld that standard. The floor assembly has been reinforced and an additional cross-member has been added in the middle of the roof for added rigidity.

Opel says the car’s dynamics have also not been affected since the larger windscreen only adds about 10 kg to the car's regular weight.