Opel Astra 1.4T Sport
Every other month, a car manufacturer announces that they’re launching the most important model ever.
Considering the manpower and investment it takes to put a new car on its wheels, I certainly won’t argue with that but find the phrase to be slightly overused – with very few exceptions. Like the new Opel Astra.
This really is an important model, especially in our market where the Astra is pretty much near the top of an Opel dealer’s price list.
From a global perspective, this C-segment hatchback needs to be good enough for a proper eye-to-eye contest with everyone’s perennial favourite, the Vwgolf.
To see if it can match (or better) the Volksie, I spent a few days zipping about in a brand-new Astra press car; also taking this grey Opel on an extended road trip for further evaluation.
Not only did my journey cover the famous Route 62 into the Karoo, it also ended up at the house of an old petrol-head mate of mine.
His qualifications are most satisfactory as he is about to buy his 39th consecutive car; and two of the 38 were Astras.
Not long after our arrival, his automotive majesty was behind the wheel of said press car to give his expert opinion. In short, most of his comments were fair and positive.
Roping in our resident lady journalist and a teenage car nut, we quickly agreed that Opel’s new Astra is quite a looker; it cuts a modern and appealing shape.
This top-of-the-line model has sufficient design details and wheel diameters to lure a modern buyer. Same goes for its curvy and interesting dashboard; which is loaded with technology.
Some of the gadgets on this 1.4T Sport model include automatic climate control, self-parking system, Intellilink infotainment system with navigation, blind spot and traffic sign assistant, rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control with lane assist and collision alert, front sports seats with heating, remote central locking and keyless start.
These goodies give it fire power to counter any rival specifications and it’s my humble opinion that the quality and finish of the new Astra is darn close to VW standards.
You’ll find differences if you look long and hard enough but even the hard plastics inside our press car were superbly made and fitted.
Driving a new Astra reveals even more ammunition for a hatchback brawl.
Steering, suspension and pedal feedback is smooth; the car feels light yet stable on its tyres. The 18- inch wheels fitted here provided heaps of grip and, together with comfortable seats, a commendably supple ride.
One niggle I had was with this car’s 1.4L Turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine which claims maximum outputs of 110kw or 230Nm.
Especially at higher speeds, I found that I had to change down too often, sometimes two or three gears, because the motor lacked torque. I hasten to add that this car only had 2,500km on the clock and was probably still waking up.
Another noteworthy item was the Astra’s automatic start/stop system. Usually, these tend to awaken when you depress the clutch but here it only wakes up when you release the brake; like an automatic.
Yet again it’s not a concern and never presented realworld issues; it just takes some getting used to.
One thing I could certainly get used to was the Astra’s frugal consumption. Opel’s optimistic average claim is 5.1L/100km but we got an admirable 6.5 on the open road and seven to eight in town.
Filling the Astra’s 48L tank (at a current cost of about 600 bucks) translates into a range between 600 and 700km.
Like most of its rivals, Opel offers various engines and trim levels for the Astra. Every model has decent specifications and thus, not many options left to tick. There’s also an automatic 1.4 turbo.
Prices range from about N$ 260,000 to N$ 411,000 with this 1.4 Sport nudging the upper end of that scale.
Still, that’s slightly less than the people’s car maker from Wolfsburg will ask for their equivalent hatchback which certainly makes the Astra a tempting alternative in my eyes.
Not better, nor any worse but definitely newer and more interesting. But don’t take my word for it; there should be one waiting at your nearest dealer.
Every car maker talks of an important new model - we think this new Opel is one.