Every part of the new Astra engages you on every level. A beautiful exterior and a superbly executed interior to rival the likes of Audi and Volkswagen, capturing the prestigious 2016 European Car of The Year award and the coveted 2015 Golden Steering Wheel Award in Berlin: the Oscars of the automotive industry. Voted by a jury consisting of readers, experts and celebrities such as racing legend Walter Röhrl, pick the best newcomers of the year after extensive test drives. Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Opel Group CEO, says the new Astra is the best Opel they have ever built and is the most important car in their product portfolio.
The sheer comfort when sliding onto the driver’s seat, surrounded by exemplary quality materials is commendable and praiseworthy. Depress the clutch, push the Start-button and the 1.6L, i4, 147kw, Turbocharged/EcoTec engine comes to life with a soft rumble. The reverse-camera made exiting my garage that much easier, the feel of the gearbox, the smooth steering, and selecting 1st gear, nothing exciting about that, but inside the Astra, the occasion had me envisioning what it would be like taking the Astra onto a race track. Probably because of my own personal expectations of the Astra, selecting Sport Mode, I was looking forward to a captivating drive. Seeking out a particular stretch of road, gently squeezing the accelerator peddle. A rapid bloom of 280nm of torque balloons from 1500rpms, with virtually no understeer or body roll, the Astra’s pin-point steering dives its nose for every apex, while relentlessly cradling momentum, the spontaneous throttle response catapults me out of the corners. The quick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, lighter D2XX chassis/platform and rear beam/Watts Linkage suspension set-up is a symphony of German engineering: soaking up bumps, craggy road surfaces – the overall comfort and ride quality is faultless. Managing a fuel score of 8L/100km, extremely reasonable considering my driving antics for the day. The constant high-beam IntelliLux LED Matrix headlights, is a most impressive feature, able to deactivate individual sections of the 16-module unit – as to avoid blinding on-coming traffic.
Full of standard equipment and gadgetry, which include, Blind-spot indicator, lane keep assist, Advanced Park Assist, traffic sign recognition, SAT-Nav, collision warning with mitigating braking and the usual touch-screen IntelliLink Infotainment system – Bluetooth, AUX/USB connectivity. Which are accessible on the multifunction steering wheel and via the voice command function.
Minus the R20 000 extra for the IntelliLux LED Matrix headlights, the new Astra 1.6L, TurboSport will cost you R387 000. A wow competitive price compared to any of its nearest rivals.