New As­tra a good ri­val for the Fo­cus and Golf

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - ALWYN VILJOEN

WHEELS bor­rowed the new Opel As­tra from Key Delta be­fore its lo­cal launch on May 19.

When we parked at the Steam­punk Cafe on the Mid­lands Me­an­der to com­pare notes, truck driver Cyril Zondi stopped be­hind us in his 1.6 16-valve As­tra Sport, which is now 11 years old.

“It is still go­ing strong, as is my 16-year-old Monza,” Zondi said. He dis­missed peo­ple who think Opel parts are ex­pen­sive, say­ing his Opels are re­li­able and ser­vice costs com­pare well.

The bold­est claim about the new As­tra was, how­ever, made by Wheels24 jour­nal­ist Cyril Klop­per, who drove the 1.6T SportPlus from East London to Port El­iz­a­beth. Af­ter the six-hour trip, Klop­per said the Opel As­tra is one of the best hatch­backs avail­able in South Africa to­day, able to take on the Ford Fo­cus and VW Golf. Wheels car writer Brian Bas­sett adds to this that even the As­tra 1.4T we drove would give his 2.0 BMW a go.

And gone are the days of my youth when Opels had whistling tur­bos able to only give a tiny burp of boost at high revs. The 1.4 en­gine’s turbo pro­vide seam­less power through­out the mid range. On his long ride, Klop­per, how­ever, did not like the “Opel Eye” — a front-fac­ing cam­era that ob­serves the road ahead and help to keep the car safely in the mid­dle of the lane. Klop­per said the sys­tem works rea­son­ably well as a warn­ing de­vice at ex­actly 65 km/h, but too many vari­ables con­fuse the Opel Eye; from smeared bugs to un­even road edges and faded lines.

Prices for the eight new As­tras start at R254 000 for the 1.0T Essen­tia and go up to R407 000 for 1.6T Sport Plus. Our thanks to Key Delta dealer prin­ci­pal Mike Paul-Jones and mar­keter Sam Job for the 1.4T Sport MT.

Job in­vites all As­tra fans to Key Delta in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg on May 19 to hear more. — WR.

PHO­TOS: ALWYN VILJOEN

Eleven years old and still go­ing strong, an As­tra 1,6 Sport next to the new Opel As­tra 1,4T, which retails for R354 000.

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