REVIEW: Opel Astra

In August last year I drove the new Opel Astra. When I went to pick up the car at Gowan headquarters in Bluebell, suddenly I felt a little disappointed.

Just as I walked into Gowan’s car park, a colleague drove out in an attractive Yellow/Amber coloured Astra. My heart sank when I learned that my Astra test car would be in a good old fashioned ‘Henry Ford black.’

But all things come to those who wait. Sarah MacGiollariogh from Opel assured me that she would arrange a test drive in the yellow version. Although Sarah is now enjoying a career break in Australia, she was true to her word and last week I picked up the yellow car from her colleague Andre O’Brien in Opel.

Colour makes a huge difference when it comes to buying cars and I would highly recommend picking up a yellow-amber coloured Astra or any type of bright coloured car on a cold January Monday morning; it certainly would give you a lift.

Since my first drive in the Astra, it has been named Continental Irish Compact Car of the Year. The Astra is a small family car which was launched in 1991. The car was an instant hit with Irish motorists and was named Irish Car of the Year in 1992.

However, the sixth generation, which was introduced to the Irish market last year bears little resemblance to the original version, which was a replacement for the Opel Kadett.

The new Astra features a bold design at the front with the new Opel Vizor look, that is now a feature of all their new cars. Just below the bonnet you get the Opel logo and the neat headlights are incorporated into the grille.

At the back, the LED lights are very slim and the name Astra is spelt out across the boot, which is opened by pressing the Opel logo. In the spacious boot you get a plastic covering where you can place wet items or dirty shoes or football boots. Underneath is a mini spare wheel which is always appreciated.

The seats are bright grey and there are white diagonal strips on the doors which really do brighten the décor.

You get two 10” screens on the dash. The steering wheel is well positioned so it’s very easy to see what your speed is from the digital feed. Then the second screen, which has the controls for radio and air conditioning, is, thanks to the wrap-around effect, tilted slightly towards the driver. A great idea.

The Astra is available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines and also a plug-in Hybrid. A full electric Astra-e is due here later in a few months.

I drove a 1.5-litre diesel version which had a really frugal engine. Whoever said that ‘diesel was dead’ was a bit premature.

Prices start at €27,995 for the 1.2-litre petrol model, while my diesel manual version will cost you €30,995. Road tax for the diesel is €190. As usual with Opel three trims available, SC, SRI and Elite.

Officially, the colour of my test car was Yellow/Amber; the other colours currently available are: Jade White, Artense Grey, Crystal Silver, Vertigo Blue, Hot Red and Pearl Black.

After a few lean years, Opel has bounced back with some great cars and dynamic marketing. That trend has continued with the Grandland and the Astra, which is well worth a test drive and should be attractive to first time drivers and mid-size families alike.