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Date: 14 Dec 2016 Author Type: Press Release
Author: Julian Lurie edited by Donovan Banks
Source: Julian Lurie
For the 2016 model year General Motors South Africa has recently launched its eleventh generation Astra in hatchback form. This latest version is not only lighter and more fuel efficient than its predecessor, but also has a more spacious interior and higher quality finish, and can boast that it was awarded the title of 2016 European Car of the Year. In these road impressions we test two models from the new range - the 1.4 Turbo Enjoy and the top of the range 1.6T Sport PLUS, both with the 6-speed manual transmission.
Compared to the outgoing model, the Opel design team has given the new Astra a wider look. The Opel Blitz is integrated in the centre of the chrome bar on the grill, with the characteristic 'blade' sweeping towards the rear. The headlamps are sleek and sporty, and flow seamlessly into the grill aperture to form a distinctive graphic, while the rear lights mirror the blade-shaped motif. The most significant design cue is the divided, 'blacked-out' C-pillar, creating the impression of a floating roof. Overall, the design reflects the new Astra's key messages: leaner, lighter, more efficient, dynamic.
Side view shows that the 1.4T Enjoy model was fitted with 10-spoke alloy rims shod with 225/45R17 Michelins whereas the more potent top of the range 1.6T Sport PLUS had a more sporty design 20-spoke alloys shod with even lower profile 40R19 Bridgestones and both models came with an emergency spare, accessed from under the boot board.
Moving inside, the Astra has been completely re-designed. Switches and controls have been reduced to an absolute minimum, making it much tidier and easier to operate. The centre-piece of the new Astra's interior is the award-winning IntelliLink system that comes with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, audio streaming, aux-in, USB ports and Digital.
The seats are firm but supportive, there’s plenty of adjustment plus the steering column is adjustable for both rake and reach, to help you find a good driving position. At the rear, there's ample room for two tall adults, or perhaps three at a pinch, but there's still plenty head room. The interior is littered with useful bins and cubbies for oddment stowage, and the large boot will easily swallow the family’s luggage on the annual holiday.
The new Opel Astra is packed with the latest technology and dependant on model or options selected these include the latest generation Opel Eye front camera, which registers the preceding and on-coming traffic, as well as recognising ambient light, for example street lighting in urban areas. The camera has a wide range of functions which include monitoring the IntelliLux LED Matrix System, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Following Distance Indication; Forward Collision Alertwith Low Speed Collision Mitigation Braking.Driving data, such as steering angle, speed and turn indicator activation, are also added to this input.
Other features are the new generation Advanced Park Assist which identifies suitable parking spaces and automatically parks the vehicle, without the driver touching the wheel. The driver just controls acceleration, deceleration and gear shifting. Parking can be made even easier by adding the Rear View Camera.
The new Astra comes with an extensive list of active and passive safety features and driver assistance systems, with six airbags, vented disc brakes in front and solids at the rear with ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Cornering Brake Control, Brake Assist, traction control and Cornering Torque Control.
The Astra 1.4T Enjoy manual is powered by Opel's brand new 1.4 litre ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo delivering 110 kW of power at 5 000 rpm and 230Nm of torque from 2000 and 4000 rpm and sends drive to the front wheels .through a 6-speed manual transmission. Fuel consumption is given as 5.1 l/100 km but the trip recorder in the press vehicle registered 6.6 litres per 100 kms. The flagship Astra 1.6T Sport PLUS model is powered by Opel’s new 1.6 litre Turbo ECOTEC turbo charged unit with performance figures of 147 kW at 4 700 rpm and 280 Nm available from 1 650 rpm. The Engine Management System also initiates an over-boost during certain parameters which increases the Torque to 300Nm.
Drive is to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. On the road the 1.4T Enjoy was surprisingly much more potent than I had expected, but this new generation turbo-petrol engine is a gem. Smooth running and quiet, for its modest 1.4 litre capacity it certainly punches above its weight. It’s happy to lug away at low revs, but is happier when revved hard. The manual gearbox is smooth in operation although it has a fairly long throw between gears. It gives its best performance when you keep it above the 4 000 rpm mark. It covered the 0-100 km/h dash in just 8.5 seconds after one gear-change and goes on to a top speed of 215 km/h. On the freeways travelling at the 120 km/h limit the motor spins a just 2400 rpm. On the curvy roads, the new Astra feels light on its feet and keen to change direction, and exhibited sharp handling characteristics, even when pushed hard.
Switching to the 1.6T Sport PLUS, the 1 598cc motor is smooth and quiet when you fire it up and spins freely right up to the 6 500 revs red line limit. Driven really hard it maintains its composure, has no unwanted vibrations and is flexible as well, making it hard to catch it in the wrong gear. The 1.6 turbo will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just seven seconds, has a top speed of 235 km/h, with petrol consumption of 7.7 litres per 100 kms. The tank holds 48 litres.
The new Astra handles like a superbly as expected from a sporty hatch, showing tremendous grip levels in tight bends not-with-standing the lightly weighted electric power-steering and I found it really sporty and fun to drive. The brakes on both cars were fully up to the performance and in the emergency stop from 100 km/h, the 1.6 Sport pulled up in just 2.8 seconds.
Both vehicles were quite at home ambling around the suburbs, the air-conditioning worked well, as did the hill start assist, the electric parking brake and the auto parking system, the only negative being the over-the-shoulder visibility.
The Opel Astra 1.4 T retails for R328 000 and the Astra 1.6T Sport PLUS for R387 000, both equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission. Prices include a five year / 120 000 kilometer warranty and a 3 year / 60 000 kilometer service plan. The options available are the Enjoy Driver Assist Pack at R6 300, the Essentia R 4.0 IntelliLink for R 4 000.00 and the Astra Hatch Sport Navi 900 IntelliLink for R 10 700.00.
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