I have been driving the Opel Astra for around a week now and have no significant problems with it, its comfortable, somewhat stylish and has lots of features and tech; It even won car of the year.
The Opel Astra Sport features a 1.4 Turbo motor producing 110kw, and once again, it’s a good engine, pretty nippy and 3rd gear especially pulls nicely. The rear of this vehicle has heated seats for passengers and the cabin is spacious, likewise the boot. The exterior styling has received mixed reviews from the people I have spoken to; it looks better in some colors than others. But once again, it boasts a modern design with sharp edges and lines which seem like the going look nowadays.
A feature I liked on the Astra is the entertainment system,it’s easy to use and even when I’m listening to music from my iPhone, I can change to a radio station by hitting the pre-stored stations which show at the bottom of the screen. Easy and straightforward.
So, in reality, it’s an excellent vehicle. But, my conclusion is that this is a safe man’s car. A car for people who don’t have any interest in cars, What do I mean? Well, I’m sure you have heard the term “play it safe” and that is exactly what this car feels like. It doesn’t inspire me, it doesn’t have a spark, I wouldn’t say its boring, but its pretty close.
For me, a vehicle needs to have a personality; there must be something about a car which makes you enjoy driving it. It might not be the comfiest car to drive or the car with the most tech, but it has something that you enjoy or connect with, then it doesn’t matter. For me, the Astra lacks that vital feeling, that character.
For others, a car is just a tool to get from A to B, and if you’re a person who looks at it from that perspective, then the Astra is a proven family hatch, it’s one of the best cars you can buy in its class, if not on the road. Your journey will be easier, safer and much more connected in an Astra, and that is a fact, It just depends if you are a car person or not.
Blind dates aren’t always a bad thing: Driving the new Opel Astra
We’ve all been here before; “She’s great!”, “He’s wonderful”, “You’ll love her” are all the cliché phrases used when you’re being set up with the “perfect” person. Only this time for us, it wasn’t a person we were being set up with, but rather a car. The phrase used to get our attention was “European Car of the Year 2016”, a phrase that almost forced us to like the new Opel Astra. Well before we declared our undying love for the car based on a title, we needed to consider a few things. First of all, we’re not in Europe, we’re in South Africa, a country that has the a different motoring outlook to other parts of the world. We don’t have great public transport here, which means that for us, cars aren’t just about features and options. The way a car makes us feel and the way it makes us appeal to others is a big factor for our consumers. Hence why in the segment that the Astra operates in, Volkswagen has dominated for a very long time.
South Africa’s love affair with VW stems from the early days of the Citi Golf and it has grown stronger over the years, so much so that for many people, driving a Golf is an accomplishment, especially for a young buyer. So the new Astra is up against a car that is more than a car, but rather an item of aspiration. Okay, enough about Volkswagen, let’s talk about the reason why this article has being written, the new Opel Astra.
Is it really that good?
The long and short of it is yes, the car is not only good, it’s great. It does more than any other car in its segment from a technology point of view. For instance, where have you heard of a large hatchback that has lane keeping assist? The new Astra has it. Where have you seen a car in this segment that features Matrix headlights that can switch off specific sections of the lights, so as to not blind oncoming cars? The Astra has it. The car is even able to tell you your following distance in seconds between you and the car in front of you. It’s sheer brilliance. The rest of the stuff is pretty cool too but not completely new. Nowadays you can expect a touch screen infotainment system and Bluetooth in cars like these, fortunately the Intellilink system in the Astra has that too. What the new Astra does also have is the very cool Apple CarPlay system, which allows you to operate your cell phone apps via the infotainment system.
What makes the new Astra good is that it’s new, completely new. As a result, the car is years ahead of its competitors in terms of technology and safety. This is an exciting car because it has birthed a new generation of smarter and more efficient hatchbacks. Speaking of efficiency, the new Astra uses a 1.0litre three-cylinder engine as its entry level model. This engine produces 77kW/170Nm but provides enough poke for city drivers who will spend most of their time stopping and starting again. Next up is a 1.4 turbocharged engine which produces 110kW/230Nm. We’ve sampled the same engine in the Adam S and Corsa Sport. In the Astra, it makes for a balanced power-train for a car of its size. The daddy for now is a new 1.6 turbocharged engine that makes 147kW/300Nm. This engine is great but we honestly think in the real world, the 1.4 is the one to go for as you get good poke at a good price, whereas the R407 000 price tag for the 1.6 turbo may be a bit rich for some.
Well, is it a keeper?
Driving the new Astra is what would determine if the hype is really true and we’re happy to report that the car really is good behind the wheel. A shaving of weight from the old car has helped create a balanced car that can easily be driven eagerly by anyone whilst still maintaining a comfortable ride. A 400km trek from East London to Port Elizabeth was enjoyable and at times even exciting. Following a fleet of Astra’s for a long period of time was even a pleasing visual experience since the car has some fine lines on it.
The question is do you take the new Astra to meet your parents? Well, as mentioned, if your folks wanted you to marry a smart, good looking person with a good family history, then the new Opel Astra would make for a good fit. Now it’s a matter of seeing how the competition will respond to this car, especially since consumers now expect more and more from smaller cars. All the best to the manufacturers, for us as consumers though, it’s a good time to be alive.