Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good General Motors’ European branch Opel relaunched the Astra nameplate in Australia August 2012. The Astra hatch features a fresh and sporting design that the Germans like to call “sculptural artistry with German precision”. All we know is it looks upmarket and fun to drive. The menacing front headlights and lightning bolt emblem on the front grille give the Astra a sense of purpose and urgency. From side on, the Astra hatch features a low and sleek shape that slopes at the rear. From the rear, the Astra has smooth and flowing lines that look rather attractive; I mean who doesn't love a larger butt?
Not so good The large A and C pillars reduce overall visibility and create blind spots that makes changing lanes rather challenging; I guess that's the trade-off for sexy lines.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Inside, the Astra looks quite classy with its semi-soft touch plastics and silver highlights around the centre stack and door handles. Models that are fitted with leather seats feature white exposed stitching that contrast well. The multifunction steering wheel feels good underhand and looks the goods too. Models fitted with a leather wrapped steering wheel feature a perforated texture for added grip. The seats are pretty comfortable and offer up good levels of cushioning, the driving position is set high for better visibility. At the rear a 370-litre boot space is more than enough for the weekly shop or kids school bags, plus the rear seat folds flat for added space.
Not so good The exposed cubby hole in the centre dash was a little annoying and access was hampered when the shifter was positioned in park. The bland colour scheme in the cabin might not be for everyone.
Performance

Performance

Good The Opel Astra range comes with the choice of two petrol engines and one diesel. Kicking things off is a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that Astra shares with the Holden Cruze. The 1.4-litre turbo manages 103kW of power and 200Nm of torque from as low as 1850rpm when matched to a 6-speed manual as standard. A 6-speed sports automatic is offered at an added cost. Next up is the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that produces 132kW of power and 230Nm of torque when matched to a 6-speed manual as standard, while the 6-speed sports automatic is offered at an added cost. Rounding out the engine line-up is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine that manages 121kW of power and 350Nm of torque when matched to a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed sports automatic is offered at an added cost. We spent our time in the 1.4-litre turbo fitted to the 6-speed sports automatic, the auto box isn't the quickest in terms of shifting power to the wheels, but it’s pretty smooth during city driving.
Not so good The 1.4-litre isn't the quickest engine out of the box, but it's still pretty zippy low down in the rev range.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Overall ride and comfort is impressive, the Astra's McPherson strut front suspension, and Watt’s link rear suspension absorbed most pot holes and corrugated roads with ease. Driving around under normal conditions is fine, it’s when you start to stack on the speed and throw the Astra through some twisted roads you begin to reveal some of its weaker points.
Not so good Driver feel and feedback isn't class leading, but it gets the job done under normal driving conditions. Overly excessive levels of wind noise and tyre roar at highway speeds.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good The best part of owning an Opel Astra is being unique, whenever out and about other motorists look and point saying ‘what's that’. The lightning bolt emblem doesn't give too much away, but offers just enough to make people curious.
Not so good What the Astra lacks in refinement it sure makes up for with character. The Astra is definitely worth a look!