Although the Opel Astra line-up has been rationalised since the German compact hatchback was introduced in South Africa in 2016, its local distributor has added a 1.6T Sport OPC-Line automatic derivative at the top of the range.
During the Astra's development, Opel prioritised a lightweight yet strong structure, more upmarket, tech-packed interior and more efficient engines for the award-winning compact hatchback, which competed with the Volkswagen Golf 7, facelifted Ford Focus, Kia Cerato, Mazda3, previous-gen Renault Megane and Toyota Auris when it was launched in South Africa by (the now departed) General Motors in 2016. Today, the Opel (now distributed by Unitrans in the local market) goes head to head with the outgoing Volkswagen Golf (7.5), new Renault Megane and Toyota Corolla Hatch, the reintroduced Peugeot 308, and there are new rivals, such as the next-generation Ford Focus and Mazda3, waiting in the wings.
The Opel Astra competes in a segment that is feeling the pinch due to the growing popularity of compact family cars/crossovers.
However, it remains an eye-catching vehicle with upmarket detailing, including chrome trims that run along the top edges of the side glass area. Note how the headlamps (equipped with the IntelliLux LED Matrix Lighting System with automatic headlamp levelling, dynamic control and adaptive forward lighting in the 1.6T Sport OPC-Line) make the Astra appear wider, while the stretched wheelbase lends the Opel a sleek, sporty profile.
The entry-level 1.0T is shod with 16-inch wheels, the 1.0T Enjoy manual and 1.4T Enjoy automatic ride on 17-inch alloys and the 1.6T Sport OPC-Line comes with an OPC-Line Sport Pack with tinted rear side and tailgate glass, a chrome exhaust tip and 18-inch rims (a sunroof is optional).
The 1.6T Sport OPC-Line features Navi 900 IntelliLink system with an 8-inch touchscreen and integrated dynamic navigation.
As we noted at the time the model was first introduced, the Astra is physically smaller than its predecessor. It is 49 mm shorter, 26 mm lower and, more importantly, also 200 kg lighter. The engine range consists of turbopetrols only, spanning from the 77 kW/170 N.m 1.0-litre 3 cylinder to the 110 kW/245 N.m 1.4-litre and 147 kW/280 N.m 1.6-litre 4-cylinder motors. The first two derivatives in the range (the 1.0T and 1.0T Enjoy) have a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the following two, the 1.4T Enjoy and 1.6T Sport OPC-Line, have a 6-speed automatic transmission.
All Astra derivatives come equipped with an Apple Carplay and Andriod Auto-compatible IntelliLink 4.0 7-inch touchscreen (for the 6-speaker Bluetooth/USB/MP3/AUX audio system), with the exception of the 1.6T Sport, which has the upgraded Navi 900 IntelliLink system with an 8-inch touchscreen and integrated dynamic navigation. The entry-level 1.0T has aircon, a multifunction steering wheel, front electric windows, electric & heated side mirrors, interior ambient lighting and cruise control with speed-limiter control, whereas the 1.0T Enjoy additionally features rear power windows, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, as well as front and rear park assist (Driver Assistance Pack 1 is optional).
The 1.6T Sport used to be exclusively available as a 6-speed manual, but the flagship derivative now features an auto transmission.
The 1.4T Enjoy automatic additionally features climate control, advanced park-assist, blindspot alert, a reverse-view camera, folding side mirrors and the Driver Assistance Pack 1 (forward collision alert, following distance indicator, lane keeping assist, speed collision mitigation and traffic sign recognition) as standard. The 1.6T Sport OPC-Line comes with Siena full-leather trim, alloy pedals, front sports seats with electrically adjustable lumbar support, a Sport-mode switch, plus a heating function for all seats and the multifunction steering wheel. Its rear seatback splits 40/20/40.
In the flagship version, interior occupants are not only treated to full-leather upholstery, but seat heating at the front and rear.
Meanwhile, the standard safety equipment list is extensive. It includes front-, side- and curtain airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, electronic stability program, hill start assist, a pedal release system, front passenger airbag deactivation switch and ISOfix child seat anchorage points.
The range comes with a 3-year/120 000 km warranty and roadside assistance, as well as a 5-year/90 000 km plan included.
Opel Astra pricing in South Africa (June 2019)
hatch 1.0T R301 049
hatch 1.0T Enjoy R329 409
hatch 1.4T Enjoy auto R391 589
hatch 1.6T Sport OPC-Line R508 000