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European automakers offer some tempting hot hatches, but the stark reality of gas prices that are even higher across the pond than they are here in the United States dictates that most buyers are opting for diesels. Vauxhall is here to say, however, that it doesn't have to be one or the other.

The Opel Astra notchback sedan has completed its round-the-world trip. General Motors has based its latest compact on the Delta II platform. Designed by its studios in the U.S. and Asia, it was first sold as the Chinese-market Buick Excelle GT and then in the U.S. as the Buick Verano. Now it joins the Astra five-door hatch, Astra wagon and three-door Astra GTC as the fourth member of the lineup, going on sale later this month in European markets.

We ogled the curvaceous Opel Astra GTC at Frankfurt, but this is the one we've really been waiting for: The OPC version. Standing for Opel Performance Center, "OPC" is similar to the Honda "Type R" or BMW "M" nomenclature, although not nearly as well known. The 2012 Astra OPC could change that in a hurry.

A more engaging driving experience should always be considered a wonderful thing, and it's clear from the Astra GTC that Opel agrees. The compact hatchback has its sights set squarely on the Volkswagen Scirocco, and it's clear the two cars share a common design ideology. Low and sleek, the Astra GTC has been styled to provide enthusiasts with a sneak peek of the driving experience waiting once they strap in behind the wheel.

2010 Vauxhall GTC Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Opel Astra Sports Tourer - Click above for high-res image gallery

2010 Vauxhall GTC Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Opel at the 2010 Paris Motor Show – Click above for high-res image gallery

2011 Opel Astra Sports Tourer – Click above for high-res image gallery

2011 Opel Astra Sport Coupe spy shots – Click above for high-res image gallery

The new Vauxhall Astra – or something or someone claiming to be the new Vauxhall Astra – has co-written a book on driving manners. The other co-writer is Debrett's, an English version of Miss Manners except that Debrett's has been dispensing etiquette advice for more than 200 years, long before Miss Manners' was even a zygote.

Vauxhall Astra VXR Arctic – Click above for high-res image gallery

Opel/Vauxhall Astra SportsTourer spy shots – Click above for high-res image gallery

Click above to watch the videos after the jump

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