Opel As­tra 1.4T Sport

ENG

Nam Wheels - - Front Page - Text Hanjo Stier Im­ages Gal­imoto Me­dia

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.

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