In South Africa, Opel has always been the outlier’s chariot – the choice mode of transport for the sensible motorist, hoping to stand out from the ever increasing pool of VW drivers and indebted BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi owners. We’ve all, no doubt, heard Opel harp on about being the ‘new Germans’, but no one has really sat up and paid attention, until now…
The Astra, being the best seller in the “new Germans’” stable, had to be good. So Opel buyers will be pleased to know that its even better than that – its very good.
Edgy details stuck to a rounded and sleek body come together to create a rather striking vehicle, especially when finished in this very shaki (you work that one out for yourself) shade of brown. Ew.
Great lengths have been gone to in the engineering department. This model is significantly lighter than the one it replaces, something that can definitely be felt behind the wheel and the 1.6T Sport model we had on test certainly had a bit of poke to it.
In fact, with 147kW and 300Nm on overboost, one can derive much delight from challenging Golf V GTI’s at the lights. This Astra is a sleeper of note.
Don’t let the ‘Sport’ moniker fool you, though, because despite it’s 7 second 0-100kmh time and heel-and toe enticing pedal placement, this is no hot hatch. While its controls are lovely to use, confidence inspiring they are not and a considerable amount of pitching can be felt under spirited acceleration and braking.
The range starts at R254 000 for the 1.0T Essentia and climbs incrementally all the way to the 1.6T Sport Plus which will cost you a heady R407 000 of your rands. Also available is a 1.4 Turbo with 110kW on tap which is the only motor available with an auto-box, but this unit has more than ample power and torque for everyday pottering around.
All engines offer impressive consumption figures and we were able to achieve an impressive 4.5l/100km on 150km round trip.
Opel continue their tech assault with the new Astra, offering impressive spec levels across the range at a much lower price point than their competitors. IntelliLink, OpelEye, Park Assist and the cringingly named “Wellness Seat” are all standard fitment on Sport models and the voice activation works just as intended – not at all. Welcomed features were the front and rear heated seats, as well as the heated steering wheel which made early morning journey’s a toasty breeze.
Our test unit wasn’t equipped with the much touted IntelliLux LED lighting system which is able to distribute light according to road conditions – nifty. Android auto and Apple car play are also integrate into the IntelliLink system which is rather…IntelliGent?
What many don’t know is that Mr Opel Adam of sewing machine and bicycle fame shuffled off before Opel became an automotive manufacturer, but he would most definitely be impressed with this new Astra. There are very few queues to the fact that this is a GM product which lends a more premium feel to the whole package.
Its no surprise that this car pipped the Volvo XC90 and Mazda MX-5 to the post to win 2016 European Car of the Year and proves to be a marginally better value proposition than competitors like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, offering impressive spec, punchy engines, pleasant build-quality and brown paintjobs – all at very competitive prices. Good job Opel!