Here’s the good news

When you find a ride that brings lux­ury car fea­tures to the ev­ery­day man, it’s quite a eureka mo­ment. Jus­tus Vis­agie drove two such beau­ties

CityPress - - The Good Guide -

Opel As­tra Price: From R254 000 to R407 000

It might not have the as­pi­ra­tional im­age of a Benz or BMW, but this new Opel As­tra has qual­i­ties that take it up a notch, democratis­ing ex­pen­sive car fea­tures like ma­trix LED head­lights, some­thing first seen on the Audi A8.

“Con­sist­ing of 16 LED seg­ments (eight on each side of the car), the LED ma­trix sys­tem au­to­mat­i­cally and con­stantly adapts the length and dis­tri­bu­tion of the light beam to ev­ery traf­fic sit­u­a­tion,” ex­plains Lunga Nt­send­wana at Opel SA.

“Ba­si­cally, the sys­tem is al­ways on high beam, but be­cause it works in con­junc­tion with a front cam­era, which de­tects the pres­ence of other ve­hi­cles and then switches off the in­di­vid­ual LED seg­ments, other road users are never daz­zled,” Nt­send­wana ex­plains.

Other in­tel­li­gent safety sys­tems abound, es­pe­cially in the flag­ship 1.6T Sport Plus man­ual (R407 000). These in­clude Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing, For­ward Col­li­sion Alert and Low-Speed Col­li­sion Mit­i­ga­tion Brak­ing. Yes, it can brake it­self.

For­tu­nately, some of the star qual­i­ties of the new As­tra are found across the range, like the sig­nif­i­cant weight re­duc­tion over its pre­de­ces­sor, its im­pres­sive abil­ity to stick to the road on sharp cor­ners and its gen­er­ous rear legroom. For now the en­gine options are the bril­liant 1.0 litre, a new 1.4 and a new 1.6. All three are fu­elled by petrol and tur­bocharg­ing. The 1.4 is also avail­able with an auto gear­box.

Just two things dull the car’s lus­tre for me: a soft vi­bra­tion I heard around the lug­gage area while driv­ing and the car’s styling, which lacks the ad­ven­ture of some­thing like the Opel Adam. Re­nault Duster 4x4 Price: R290 900 slower traf­fic.

But it doesn’t end there. As the name im­plies, this top-of-the-range Duster has a con­ve­nient dial be­hind the gear lever. Dur­ing nor­mal driv­ing, you would leave it in 2WD and the en­gine would drive the front wheels only. If rain pours down or there are patches of ice on the road, you would turn it one click to auto 4WD and it would push power to all four wheels if it de­tected wheel slip­page.

And if the spirit of ad­ven­ture pos­sesses you, and you want to go and mess around on dif­fi­cult dirt roads in Lesotho, you turn that dial another notch to per­ma­nently drive all four wheels.

All these fea­tures are in­cluded in the re­tail price, ex­cept leather up­hol­stery, an op­tion for R10 000. Given every­thing you would get in a Duster, it’s lit­tle won­der Re­nault SA has sold 10 000 of these rock­hop­pers (4x2 and 4x4) since the launch in Septem­ber 2013.

PHO­TOS: SUP­PLIED

DEMO­CRATIC CHOICE The up­dated Opel As­tra brings luxe to the peo­ple

ROCK-HOP­PER Even on the dirt roads of Lesotho the Re­nault Duster is a great ride

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