We recently joined Opel Ireland for the launch of the all-new sixth generation Astra in County Laois. This one sparks a particular interest for me considering it was the car I passed my driving test with many moons ago and indeed we were lucky enough to be on the launch of the outgoing model in sunny Majorca. A descendant of the legendary Kadett, the success story of the Astra, not just in Ireland, but around the world has been phenomenal with 15 million units sold over a rich 40 year period. As expected the new Opel Vizor brand front face as seen on the Mokka and Grandland gives the new Astra a defining look. It has been proudly designed, developed and manufactured at Opel’s headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany using the highly flexible EMP2 multi-energy platform from Stellantis, which it shares with the Peugeot 308. This means the dimensions have changed ever so slightly making it 4,374mm long, just 4.0mm longer than the previous model, 1,860mm wide and 1,470mm tall. The untrained eye would never notice but the wheelbase has been increased by 13mm to 2,675 mm and you have up to 1,339 litres of luggage space with the rear seats folded down.
Buyers familiar with Opel products will be happy to see the simple specification trim of SC, SRI and Elite has been retained. Standard equipment on the SC trim gives punters a 10-inch colour touchscreen, 10-inch colour driver information cluster, wireless smartphone connection, cruise control with speed limiter and a suite of safety assistance. Even on the SC you get a leather steering wheel, electronic single zone climate control, comfort front seats, 6-way driver seat adjustment and 16-inch alloy wheels. The LED daytime running lamps and LED rear tail lamps are standard across the range but it’s impressive to see automatic wipers/lights and parking sensors are even on this entry model.
Stepping up to the famous SRI trim will gain adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, heated steering wheel, keyless entry, dual zone climate control, power folding mirrors and a very impressive heated 8-way adjustable AGR drivers seat with electric lumbar adjustment and half leather style upholstery. Other creature comforts include a moveable load compartment floor and 2 x type C USB connections up front with one in the rear. As it’s the sporty SRI you can have the Black Pack (black Vizor frame, black logo black Astra lettering), 17-inch black alloy wheels, privacy rear windows, which work fantastic with the black roof. Finally the king option is no doubt the Elite trim with perforated Nappa leather upholstery, massage, ventilation and memory function seats with 18-way driver seat adjustment. Even the front passenger seat gets 8-way adjustment with 4-way electric lumbar support. The 18-inch bi-colour diamond cut wheels look particularly attractive on this model also.
All trim levels are available with both petrol and diesel propulsion, matched to manual or automatic transmission. Power ranges from 110hp to 130hp with a 1.2 litre petrol or 1.5 diesel and we have been told a plugin electric hybrid 180hp variant is due in the coming months. This will be followed by a more powerful 225hp possibly next year. Keep in mind manual diesel cars are said to be discontinued towards the end of the year so if you do want a manual, please act fast!
Naturally like all new Opel’s the Astra’s safety shell incorporates the latest automated driver assistance packages available. In addition to a plethora of airbags and a multifunction camera in the windscreen, a further four body cameras to the nose, tail and each side along with five radar sensors and ultrasonic sensors front and rear come together to keep occupants safe. This enables the system to adapt speed in bends, make speed recommendations and perform semi-automatic lane changes. Hands-off detection, rear cross-traffic alert, long-range blind-spot detection, active lane positioning, adaptive cruise control, Stop & Go are all features available depending on the chosen trim and transmission.
As mentioned previously there are three trim levels to pick from starting with SC priced at €27,995 plus delivery. The more sporty SRI variant follows priced from €31,995 and the top of the range Elite trim level kicks off at €34,995. Opel have various PCP and Finance offers available now throughout their dealer network and personal leasing opportunities will also be available later this year.
We enjoyed our time in the all-new Opel Astra. For some reason we thought the true Opel DNA might be missing with this new approach to building cars particularly from the corporate giant, that is, the Stellantis group. Thankfully this is not the case and the Astra remains true to its past with many design nods and driving characteristics found in models of the past. Opel have stated the new Astra has been designed to be “Autobahnproof” with decent handling and a composed ride regardless of the road conditions and we tend to agree. Torsional rigidity is 14% higher than that of the previous model and its noticeable on the country roads around Portlaoise but by no means harsh thanks to well-dampened suspension. Strong stopping power is present under braking and it feels engaging pushing on through the bends. We are delighted to say the Astra is back and once again very much capable of competing within this sector. Will it tempt some away from the Golf, Focus or perhaps Leon only time will tell but we can most certainly see some punters stepping out of their current Crossover SUV’s in favour of the stylish Astra. Drop into your local Opel dealer today and take a test drive before stock becomes an issue!
Long throw on manual gearshift