Really impressive styling, good infotainment, willing chassis
New Car Reviews
New Car Review: Opel Astra Elite 1.5 130hp Diesel
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Not much apart from the segment itself is suffering
What is the Opel Astra?
Opel's stunning new hatchback
The Opel Astra has been a mainstay of Irish car culture for generations, replacing the much-loved Opel Kadett and quicky establishing itself as a strong rival to the ever present Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. The Astra, like Opel itself, lost its way a bit here in Ireland, but they are very much back with a bang with this new model, which features dramatic styling and a choice of petrol and diesel engines, which will eventually be added to with some PHEVs (2023) and most likely, a fully electric version. This is the sixth generation of the car and there is also an attractive Sports Tourer Estate model on the way too. The new model is 4,374mm long and 1,860mm wide and this makes it only 4mm longer than before, but the wheelbase has increased by 13mm to 2,675mm.
How about the looks of the Opel Astra?
Retro and Modern in one package
The Opel Astra was always a reasonably handsome car, but one could never really describe the design as bold, but this has very much changed with this latest version, which features the new brand face – the Opel Vizor. While this has appeared on SUVs up until now, this hasn’t been on a hatchback yet and it really does look well. There is a super stance to this car and at the side the car looks really striking because of the pronounced forward rake of the C-Pillar. At the back, the Opel ‘Blitz’ emblem doubles as the latch for the tailgate. We were driving the Elite model, which gets 18” Pentagon alloy wheels as standard and our car was Perla Black Metallic. Our Elite model also gets a black painted roof and a Black Pack (standard on SRi and Elite) which consists of a black Opel logo + Vizor frame and a high gloss black Astra rear badge.
“In a market overrun by SUVs, when you get back into a proper hatchback with a low centre of gravity and low driving position it actually feels great and the Astra was always a car with a willing enough chassis”
What is the inside of the Opel Astra like?
Retro styling in places and high quality materials
Opel always do good quality cabins, but in the past they might have been a little on the drab side. That’s not the case anymore. While the quality is excellent the new cabin layout is impressive with the cabin dominated by the Pure Panel, first introduced in the Mokka. This expansive, digital cockpit features two 10-inch displays, integrated – together with a driver’s side vent in a horizontal format. There are no analogue instruments anymore to be found, but there are a welcome amount of buttons for various controls including Climate Control. There are USBs connectors, but you can dispense with these as there is Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with compatible smartphones. The steering wheel is cool too – like a modern take on an old Opel steering wheel. At the back, there is a 422-litre luggage space, which is good for this class.
The interior of the new Astra is a mix of modern technology with some nice retro touches.
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What is the Opel Astra like to drive?
Great chassis and quiet diesel
In a market overrun by SUVs, when you get back into a proper hatchback with a low centre of gravity and low driving position it actually feels great and the Astra was always a car with a willing enough chassis. It liked the twisty stuff, if perhaps not as much as a Ford Focus. There is no doubt that this car aims to be sporty and feels set up that way, with a tight enough chassis and steering that certainly responds quickly. It is infinitely better to drive than any of its crossover brethren but that is no surprise really. We drove the 130hp 1.5-litre diesel and although it sounds a little vocal on start-up it is actually very quiet when you get going and feels super responsive. There is 300Nm of torque at just 1,750 rpm so certainly won’t have to work this engine hard to get the best out of it. There is a 52-litre fuel tank.
Which Opel Astra should I buy?
Which Astra you’ll need depends a lot on your own personal circumstances, for sure. The choice, for now anyway, is reasonably straightforward. In terms of specification, there are three grades, SC, SRi and Elite. The choice of engines is pretty straightforward too. You can have a 1.2-litre petrol engine with either 110hp or 130hp. Or if you prefer Diesel, we were in the 1.5-litre 130hp Diesel. There will be a 180hp PHEV at a later date, and a 225hp petrol at some stage too. You can also expect an EV. We’ve only tried the Diesel so far, so don’t have another point of reference but this Diesel is very good. The petrol 1.2 130hp version is cheaper, and you only pay €10 per year in motor tax, so we suspect this would make the better buy but for some people a torquey diesel is the way. The entry-level SC model isn’t bad in terms of kit at all, All models get the dual 10” screens, one for infotainment, one for instruments and a DAB radio. You get two, USB C in SRi and Elite. And wheel sizes go from 16” in the SC, to 18” in the Elite. All cars get LED lights front and rear and LED front fog lights.
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Is the Opel Astra safe?
Four-star NCAP rating
The Opel Astra scored four stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. In the safety report – Euro NCAP said, “Control of excursion (the extent to which a body is thrown to the other side of the vehicle when it is hit from the far side) was found to be marginal. The Astra does not have a counter measure, such as a centre airbag to mitigate against occupant to occupant injuries in such impacts. This accounts in part for the absence of the full five stars in this case, but in general the car is very well appointed in terms of safety kit and the four-star score in this case shouldn’t be of concern.
The new Opel Astra is very good new hatchback, with great design and lovely retro elements. It faces a tough job persuading buyers out of SUVs and Crossovers but it is very capable and one of the best in class now.
Spec Check ⚙️
Opel Astra 1.5-litre 130hp Diesel Elite
-cylinder turbocharged, direct-injection, diesel engine
Six-spped manual, front wheel drive
Price as tested