Carzone drives the new 7th generation Opel Astra
Opel’s best-selling Astra has always been a favourite with Irish hatchback buyers, and the new seventh generation model builds on this for 2016 with improved looks, more space, lighter underpinnings and more efficient engines than its predecessor.
If you are in the market for a new hatchback, the good news is that there has never been a better time to buy than right now! With increased competition between brands such as Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford and Opel, quality standards have risen substantially in the segment while cost of ownership has fallen with excellent finance rates on offer from the various brands. Opel’s best-selling Astra has always been a favourite with Irish hatchback buyers, and the seventh generation model builds on this for 2016 with improved looks, more space, lighter underpinnings and more efficient engines than its predecessor.
From the outside, the Astra is sleeker than before with a sharper nose, headlights and side profile, while the rear is enhanced with LED brake lights and a swooping rear boot. Our test car is finished in a patriotic ‘Emerald Green’ colour scheme which may not be to everyone’s taste, but there are 11 other colours to choose from and four different model specifications. At €19,995 for the entry level ‘S’ model, the new Astra undercuts both the new Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf on price, and we drove the highest specification ‘Elite’ model which is loaded with some of Opel’s finest kit.
Opel’s IntelliLink entertainment system is one of the most impressive systems we have come across in a long time and it integrates seamlessly with smartphones via Bluetooth when you step inside, which is especially useful if you regularly stream music from apps such as Spotify or make phone calls on the move. The Astra’s dash seems higher quality than most cars at this price point, finished in glossy black with chrome lining, while audio and navigation is presented on a clear 8-inch touch screen monitor. Our test car featured electrically-adjustable seats wrapped in black leather upholstery which gives a premium feel and matches well with the centre console. We were driving to a car launch event in Dublin with three members of the Carzone team and they all commented on how big the new Astra feels inside as the windscreen feels further away and taller in the rear, even though it is physically smaller than the old model!
The Astra is now available with five different engines, three petrol options (1.4-litre, 1.0-litre turbo and 1.4-litre turbo) and two different 1.6-litre diesels. On paper, the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol makes for the most fun as it produces the most power (148bhp), and this engine loves to be revved when the turbocharger kicks in above 3,000rpm, making 0-100km/h possible in 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 215km/h. It features a 6-speed manual gearbox which is well-suited to motorway speeds over 80km/h, and we found fuel economy was quite good achieving 6.5/litres per 100 kilometres during our test. In stop start traffic this engine wasn’t so impressive as turbo lag was more noticeable, but on back roads and at higher speeds it is rather fun to drive.
Up to 200kg of weight has been saved in the new generation Astra and this means it is nimbler in corners than before, although not quite as good as the latest Ford Focus. The steering is light which is great for parking, and our test car is equipped with Opel’s Advanced Park Assist system, which uses front and rear sensors to detect a suitable parking space to guide you into tight spaces. Family buyers will also love its 5 Star Euro NCAP rating and other safety features such as the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, automatic head lights and blind spot indicator. Opel’s OnStar personal assistance system also offers a whole host of features to make driving safer than ever before with automatic response in crashes and you can locate the Astra and view diagnostics for the car using a smartphone app. Boot space is strong at 370 litres, and this can be expanded to 1,210 litres with the rear seats dropped for those weekend trips to the furniture store.
There’s no doubt about it, the Astra is facing tougher competition than ever before, but this latest model certainly stands out from the crowd when it comes to pricing, smartphone integration and looks. Take a look at the hundreds of Astras for sale on Carzone right now using this link.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Opel Astra Elite
Prices from: €19,995
Price as tested: €30,695
Annual Road Tax: €270
Engine: 1.4-litre Turbo four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Six Speed Manual
Body style: 5-Door Hatchback
Top Speed: 215 km/h
0-100km/h: 8.3 seconds