The Opel Astra is one of those cars that’s really caught us by surprise in 2015, in a good way. The Astra has always faced stiff competition from other hatchbacks which include the Ford Focus, Peugeot 308 and the ever-popular Volkswagen Golf. This new Astra now has all the credentials to challenge its competitors with confidence.
This new Astra is lighter and more spacious than its predecessor, it’s also more attractive with a sculpted body and floating roof which give it a lower and wider appearance. Its good looks are carried over to the interior too which oozes quality throughout. The front seats in particular stood out for us offering maximum comfort on long journeys, we drove our test car on a return journey to Cork from Dublin in a few hours, arriving as fresh as we would on a short hop to the local shops. Aside from the supportive seats the remainder of the interior is composed of high quality materials with soft-touch plastics and high-gloss materials in use. An 8-inch colour touchscreen takes centre stage in the dash, it runs Opel’s Navi 900 IntelliLink system which comes as standard on SRi and Elite models. As the name suggests it comprises of a built-in navigation system and also controls your Bluetooth and USB connections and radio functions. Also standard fitment on SRi and Elite models is Opel’s OnStar which comprises of a host of connectivity features. These include automatic crash response which in the event of a crash sensors will automatically inform OnStar who will connect to your car and can notify the emergency services with your location. It’s also possible to setup a wifi hotspot in the car which allows up to seven devices to connect to the internet. If you’re looking for a destination you can simply call OnStar at the press of a button who can download the location you request to the car’s navigation system, taking the stress out of searching for it. By using the OnStar smartphone app you can control some features of the car from your mobile phone, it enables you to remotely lock or unlock the car, check the oil life of the engine or flash the car’s lights.
Customers can choose from four trim levels for the new Astra, S, SC, SRi and Elite. The entry-level S variant is priced from €19,995 and is available with a choice of both petrol and diesel engines. Some of its standard equipment includes hill-start assist, LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors. The SC Astra (from €21,495) gains a 7-inch colour touch screen, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel and a chrome-effect grille bar. Our test car was the SRi (from €24,495) model which has a host of features that includes, 17-inch alloy wheels, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, forward collision alert, Opel OnStar, automatic headlights, sports seats, front fog lights and a leather-covered steering wheel. The Astra Elite is priced from €26,695 and comes with a multitude of extras that includes, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control, electric folding mirrors, remote alarm system and Navi 900 IntelliLink system.
There is increased space on offer in this new Astra in comparison to its predecessor, the boot has 370 litres of luggage space which increases to 1,210 with the rear seats folded down. If you need more space the new Astra Sports Tourer will be available in early 2016 and offers up to 1,630 litres of luggage space.
Without doubt the most impressive feature of our test car was its engine, it’s a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit that produces 105hp and 170Nm of torque. I understand this isn’t headlining performance figures, nonetheless the way in which it delivers its power is impressive. It’s an extremely capable engine that’s capable of cruising at motorway speeds for long distances showing no signs of stress. It’s efficient too offering a combined fuel consumption of just 4.4L/100km making it a real alternative to a larger diesel engine. The ride and comfort is composed, our SRi model comes with a Sport button which when pressed sharpens the steering and throttle response for a more involved driving experience.
With the styling changes and new engine line-up the new Opel Astra is a competent hatch that won’t disappoint.
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