The Opel Astra OPC is a vehicle made specifically for those who love to drive. That’s why GM’s European arm is the first manufacturer to give drivers access to preselected data about the performance of their vehicle and about their driving — all on an iPhone. Here are the basics:
Users download an app called OPC PowerApp and thereby get access to data from the Astra OPC’s CAN (Controller Area Network) bus — the central system that unified and connects all of the vehicle’s electronics. Previously, this data was only available to tuning shops with specialty software and equipment.
So what kind of data are we talking about? How about boost pressure, throttle position, lateral acceleration, and engine torque — just to name a few. In fact, up to sixty different types of vehicle data are available in real-time in the iPhone app; the data can be retrieved for further analysis at a later time to compare with fellow drivers.
But the benefits of the OPC PowerApp don’t end there: drivers can record their track lap times, braking points, section-specific speeds, and G-forces on particular bends and connect them to GPS data to analyze and improve their track performance. You can see that this will come in handy when racing on the legendary Nordschleife stretch of the Nürburgring.
Overall, the app includes seven display models including an analog instrument, a G-force meter, a digital display and over/under-steer indicator, a bar chart, a line graph and a map. Those who really want the OPC PowerApp will need to install a smarthpone controller (aka black box) behind the interior panels of their Astra. It’s this unit — which can either be installed by the driver or by an Opel dealership — that will interface with the PowerApp running on the iPhone via a cable. In addition, drivers can open for the FlexDock iPhone cradle that offers better access and visibility of the PowerApp data.
In effect, the iPhone serves as an in-cabin recorder that pulls data from the CAN bus, which itself aggregates all the different signals from various parts of the vehicle.
The PowerApp is 0.79 Euro in the Apple iOS AppStore and is compatible with the iPhone (3rd generation and newer), iPad 2, and iPod Touch. An Android version will be available by early 2013. The Astra OPC launches this summer with a 280 horsepower four-cylinder turbo-charged engine and HiPer Strut performance struts.
The GM Authority Take
This is some really exciting stuff. It takes a minute or two to wrap one’s brain around the sheer awesomeness of such a tool as the Power App, but once you’ve understood what’s happening here, you realize that it was all worth it.
Now, if only Chevy offered a high-performance variant of the already-excellent Cruze, then we could at least start dreaming about having an app like this for our cars. Then again, will the Camaro, Corvette, or SS Sedan get something like this? We certainly hope so.