EXECUTIVE EXPRESS: Opel Astra sedan returns after an 11-year hiatus


Getting behind the wheel of the brand new Opel Astra sedan brought back a sense of nostalgia for me and my family. Exactly 20 years ago, we took delivery of a brand new Anthracite-coloured Astra 160iE, incidentally also bought from Williams Hunt Uitenhage, which we only sold in 2005 with over 300 000 km on the clock.

It is fair to say though that quite a lot has changed in those 20 years and on first impression, the latest model in Opel’s arsenal does not disappoint. Although, it rides on the same platform as its hatchback sibling, there is no evidence to suggest that the boot section has simply been welded on as an afterthought in the transformation from hatch to sedan.

With strong lines, a lowered rear roofline and some styling cues borrowed from the larger Euro-only market Insignia, the Astra sedan comes over as classy, good looking and stylish.

Inside, good quality materials are the order of the day with soft touch plastics on the dashboard and lots of silver inserts down the centre hangdown section and around the air vents. With space being the main attraction of a sedan, the Astra scores big marks as well.

Popping the driver’s seat into my driving position and doing the sit-behind-self test, my 1.84 m frame fitted nicely into the back without complaining about rear head-or legroom. The boot is especially copious and be enlarged by simply folding the rear seats forward.

Being the top-range Cosmo model, it comes loaded with a standard kit of cruise-control, auto lights, wipers and boot release, heated front seats, Bluetooth, automatic dual-zone climate control, rear park-assist, hill hold control, radio/CD/MP3 player with aux and USB input, leather seats, smart 18 inch alloy wheels, six airbags, ABS with EBD and ESP and a five star EuroNCAP crash rating.

On the go, you simply cannot help but smile each time your floor the throttle. The 1.6 L turbocharged engine, with 132 kW and 230 Nm of torque, is an absolute gem and a perfect companion to the slick and precise shifting six speed manual box. Power is instant, even in sixth gear, and despite the 18 inch rims, the ride remains firm but not hard or bouncy.

The C-segment family saloon market is one of the most popular and hotly contested segments in South Africa where value for money speaks. Now, add in great looks, refined drivetrain and a proud motorsport heritage, you have to say that the Opel Astra sedan has got this segment marked.

To book your test drive, visit Williams Hunt Uitenhage at 100 Caledon Street, Uitenhage or phone 041 992 7823.