Editor: Jason “The Bok” Date – 09 Sept 2016
In the late 80’s and early 90’s there were few homes in South Africa, which did not have an Opel Kadett parked on the drive. South African’s simply loved the Kadett’s space, practicality, sporty drive and charming fun appearance.
Moved forward a couple of moons and Opel are now producing the Kadett in its 11th generation. As time rolled forward, Opel changed the name Kadette to the now present name, the Astra.
The Kadett was first introduced to the world in 1936 in Opel’s Rüsselsheim production plant in Germany. At the time of its introduction, the automotive market was a far less fierce place, with far fewer automakers striving to take the place of “top dog,” and reign automotive supremacy within their own market segments.
In our current world, governments, technology companies, and automakers, as well as just about any other kind of organisation will take drastic measures in order to try and prove that it produces a commodity which is the very best within its market. Opel therefore now sits amongst some very tough competitors all competing within this compact hatchback market segment, in which the all-new Astra sits. The closest competitors include the Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308, Honda Civic and Ford Focus.
Having driven all of the competitor cars, I felt that it was time to take the latest generation Opel Astra 1.4T Automatic for a drive and see what it’s like.
This latest generation Astra features a 1.4-litre turbo engine mated to an automatic gearbox, I was initially worried, as in the past, automatic gearboxes have been reserved traditionally for larger engines. I am very glad to report that the new Astra drives and feels fantastic. The automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and power delivery is constant. Despite the smaller engine size, the turbo more than makes up for any power needed throughout the drive.
Despite the decent power delivery and buttery smooth automatic gearbox, the one thing that must be noted is that the 1.4-litre turbo is rather thirsty, in the past couple of days driving the Astra, I was averaging around 10.0-litres/100km. You must, however, factor in that all my driving time, was spent under heavy traffic urban conditions.
The automatic gearbox Astra will cost you R20,000 more than its manual equivalent, but for the extra money, you get a lovely leather interior included. In my opinion well worth the extra spend. The all-new Astra has also shed 130 kg of weight, which results in a much more responsive feel and engaging drive.
With this latest generation, Opel has really come a very long way in ensuring that the vehicle is now more spacious, comfortable and rides better than ever over the bumps. This latest generation Astra is now 49 mm shorter in length than its predecessor, despite this, Opel engineers have been able to extract an additional 35 mm rear passenger legroom. It also remains very comfortable for a driver of just about any height to find the optimum driving position.
The boot loading space is comparable with that of the Peugeot 308 and even more substantial than the Ford Focus. Throughout the vehicle there are large cupholders,stowage compartments and spaces. The Astra also features impressive creature comforts, which include heated seats for both front and rear passengers as well as USB charging ports in the front and rear of the vehicle. The driver also gets a heated steering wheel.
Up to this point in the review, you may have noticed that I have been quite impressed with the overall offering of this new Opel Astra, well it is in the Technology department that this vehicle goes from being an Astra, to just being darn-right “Astranomical.” Opel has clearly made every concerted effort to ensure that the all-new Astra remains ahead of the technology game. As a result, the new Astra features many adaptive passive and active safety driver aid systems, which make the new car offer features previously only reserved for luxury saloons.
When I say “lots of tech going on here, I mean lots of tech!” Apart from the large touch screen based display in the centre of the dash, which has the ability to display Apple CarPlay in addition to its own media interface. You have the ability to also stream satellite-based radio station and media through Bluetooth as well as USB and an audio auxiliary socket. The 8-inch Navi 900 Intellilink system is a R10,700 option in the sport model, but well worth having. The system also features beautiful navigation with 3D mapping. The Opel Astra also features a clever phone holding slot to dock your device.
Besides standard ABS, and EBD stability programs, the Astra now features a wealth of other safety features, which include a lane-keeping assistant, a reversing camera, and auto parallel park. When motoring along, your display at the centre of the instrument cluster also reads traffic signs and displays information about the vehicles remaining oil level, as well as having an independent tyre pressuring monitoring system.
The latest generation Opel Astra represents the importance which technology is having on all modern vehicles. With its price of R374,000 in its current configuration, it certainly presents itself as a segment leader in terms of driver comfort features and technology. I am confident that this all-new Astra will is set to lead within the compact automatic hatchback market in terms of its overall solid offering.
The Opel Astra comes with a 5-year/120,000 km warranty and a 5-year/90,000 km service plan.
See my drive in the Opel Astra 1.4T Automatic by clicking the below video: