The C-segment is one of the most hotly contested within the automotive industry. There are no less than eight contenders vying for the crown. One of the best of the bunch is the Opel Astra. Earlier this year General Motors South Africa (GMSA) introduced a tweaked version of the Astra. The changes were aimed at repositioning the model in terms of specification and pricing.
The exterior changes include a revised grille and new fog lights and turn indicators. At the rear there is some new chrome detailing, a new bumper while there are also new alloy wheels across the range. The styling changes were not really necessary as the new Astra has been a rather handsome piece of metal. I received the Astra 1.4T Enjoy Plus to test and can happily report that Opel is back to making cars a brilliant as they did back when the Kadett took on the Golf in the 80’s.
One of the most surprising things about the Astra is just how good it is at being an all-rounder, dare I say that the new Astra is more like VW’s Golf than ever. The car seems to handle every situation that you throw at it with poise and grace. The handling is beautiful, there is very little understeer and less body roll than I expected. But to analyse the dynamic ability of the car is to miss the point of the 1.4T.
If you want proper hooliganism rather buy an OPC, the regular Astra seems more comfortable wafting along the motorway where the small turbo motor whispers away as it sips fuel. I first sampled the 1.4-litre turbo motor in the Meriva and was very impressed with its effortless power delivery. It may only have 200Nm of torque but the fact that it is available below 2000 r/min makes that torque very usable. It is exactly what you want from a car of this type, a relaxed demeanour and enough grunt for overtaking or the occasional blast
The power is rated at 103 kW which is average for its segment while top speed is a claimed 202 km/h and acceleration from 0-100 km/h is 9, 8 seconds. The figures don’t tell the whole story as the car feels just a brisk as the Golf TSI and the Focus 2-litre GDi. In my time with the vehicle I managed a reasonable fuel consumption figure of 7, 1l/100 km which is higher than the claimed figure of 5, 9 l/100 km.
The interior is one area where I think the Astra loses ground to the likes of the VW Golf 7 and Honda Civic. The ergonomics are not quite up to scratch. Most of the materials are top notch and everything feels well-made. There is USB, Bluetooth and AUX functionality but the facia looks slightly dated when looking at the competitions colour screen infotainment systems.
Pricing is key in this segment and Opel have done well by introducing this model at a competitive R257, 000 which is fantastic value when you consider the features. This model has heated power mirrors, daytime running lamps, power windows all round, ABS with EBD, ESP, front, side and curtain airbags, 17-inch alloys, cruise control, fog lamps, leather covered steering wheel, rain sensing headlamps and auto headlamps. There is also a 5 year/120 000 km warranty with Roadside Assistance and a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan.
The fact of the matter is the Golf 7 will probably be a contender for the Car of the Year title next year. After driving the Astra around I have to say that it is a very worthy competitor to its rival from Wolfsburg and that, I think that speaks volumes about the Astra and shows what a polished product it has become.