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Opel Astra hatchback road test

by Stephen Walker

6th January, 2013

Home > Road Tests > GM > Opel

Related stories:
Opel introduces "Capped Price" servicing
13th September, 2012
Opel announce dealer locations
28th June, 2012

Yes, it's back!

The popular "Astra" nameplate is back in Australia, this time wearing the "Opel" brand name. GM's European brand, Opel, which is based in Germany, is now available locally.

Test Car particulars

The Sovereign Silver coloured test car that we sampled was the Opel Astra Select 5-door hatchback. The Astra Select is the mid-spec model amongst the 5-door hatches. It sits between Astra and Astra Sport in the model range.


The current price* for the Opel Astra Select automatic hatch is from $30,990*. The test car was fitted with several options, namely premium paint ($695*), navigation ($1,250*) and "prestige pack" ($4,500*) taking the price of the test car to $37,435*. Before falling off your chair due to shock with the price we need to point out that the test car was quite well equipped and presented itself exceptionally nicely, thank you very much.

The standard engine in the Select hatch is a 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engine.

The base model Astra hatch (1.4 litre turbo with manual transmission) is priced from $23,990*.

Model background

Although the Astra nameplate is well known in Australia as a Holden model, Astra is now the leading light in GM's push to establish Opel in Australia.

The final Holden Astra, the AH series which was introduced in late 2004, followed several generations of the popular European small car. Holden gave up on Astra to concentrate on the then Korean-made Cruze, which went on to becoming another success in the showrooms for Holden and GM.

Driving the Astra 1.6 litre turbo

Our experience with the new Astra covered 203 kilometres of city and suburban driving during our week in Opel's small hatch.

With a quiet and comfortable ride around the suburbs, we were delighted by the driving characteristics of Opel's new model Astra. Of course the size of the Astra meant parking was easy. The Astra hatch has good visibility for the driver, too.

Despite the high cost of the test car, there was no reversing camera although parking sensors are fitted front and rear. We did, however, like the electrically operated parking brake which is controlled by a switch on the centre console.

The performance was mild but more than acceptable in this segment of the market. We have to say that it is a big improvement on the last Astra that was sold here. Additionally, we found the power delivery to be more efficient and pleasing than that of GM's other small car, the Holden Cruze. Opel say the Astra (as tested) is capable of a 0 to 100 km/h time of 9.0 seconds (half second slower than the manual).

Owners of older Astra models will be delighted by the improvements that are evident in this new model, especially with the ride quality and quietness of the ride.

Living with the Astra Select hatchback

We were quick to notice the front sports seats, which we found comfortable. These were part of the "prestige pack" and, interestingly, have heating and a cushion extension. There was, also, an attractive contrasting stitching on the front seats and front door trims. We were also quick to notice the garish rear door trim. We considered this was weird. We cannot imagine what the interior designers were thinking. An intriguing red ambient lighting was also evident in this model. (NOTE: The rear door trim for models sold in Australia now feature a more appealing appearance than that of the early production test car - Editor)

There was no 'auto' locking for the doors upon take-off in the test car.


Astra is a front-wheel drive car, powered on this occasion by a 1.6 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol-fuelled engine. Power is rated at 132 kW at 5,500 rpm and the torque is 230 NM from the 1,598 cc engine.

The conventional lay-out of the Astra included a six-speed automatic transmission on the test car. It operates quite nicely and is part of the overall package that makes the little Astra a nice car to manage.


The Astra hatch has the usual standard fare for a European-made cars in respect to safety features. So six airbags and electronic stability control are fitted, together with a few other features.

Using EuroNCAP test results, the Australasian-NCAP rates the Opel Astra hatch at, as expected, five stars. This is the maximum star rating but, these days, it is also the minimum rating that a buyer should expect for a passenger car. The breakdown of the score reveals the Astra hatch gained 35.02 points (out of 37). Although slightly longer than the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Mercedes-Benz B-Class, the Astra gives way on points as the two mentioned gained 36.44 and 36.78 points respectively. The newly-released Japanese-made Toyota Corolla hatch beats the Astra hatch too, by a narrow margin as it came in with 35.25 points. GM's other small car, the Holden Cruze, also scores higher (only just) as it gained 35.04 points when tested in sedan guise in 2011.

Fuel and emissions

Astra 1.6 auto hatch fuel consumption is rated at 7.3 litres per 100 kms on the combined cycle. This is not close to the class leaders but the Astra does feel as though it uses its power in a more appealing manner.

City cycle consumption is rated at 10.0 l/100 km. Highway cycle comes in at 5.8 l/100 km. Again, it is noted that the Astra 1.6 litre turbo uses more fuel than some other competitors.

The fuel tank capacity is a 56 litres.

CO2 emissions from the Euro5 compliant engine are 172 grammes/kilometre.


All Astra hatch models have four-way adjustable steering column; 60/40 split-fold rear seats; trip computer; remote keyless entry; USB input with iPod® connectivity; AUX input; Bluetooth® mobile phone connectivity with voice control; alloy wheels (although the spare is of the space saver steel variety); chrome exhaust tip and daytime running lamps.

The Astra Select hatch also features electric parking brake control (an excellent feature, which is gaining favour more and more); centre console with hidden storage and dual cup holders; 6-way adjustable driver’s seat with power operated lumbar support; front and rear sensors; 'auto' headlights; rain sensing wipers; auto-dimming rear view mirror; chrome window surround and 17" wheels.

The optional "Prestige Pack" (as fitted to the test car) includes the "Premium Forward Lighting Package" (from the Astra Sport hatch) and includes: Bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL+), high-pressure headlamp washers, LED daytime running lamps, automatic headlamps levelling, automatic high-beam headlamp assist together with the "Leather Ergonomic Sports Seats Package" (which is available separately for Astra Select and Astra Select Sports Tourer) and includes desirable features such as ergonomic sports front seats, leather appointed trim, 4-way adjustable driver’s head restraint, front seat cushion extenders and front seat heating. There is also a rear armrest with dual cup holders, covered storage and ski-port.


Three trim levels in the hatchback make up the major component of the Astra range. But there are also wagon and coupe models, too. For drivers with a 'sporty' inclination there is an OPC version of the coupe just around the corner (so to speak). So it's a good choice of models that Opel are offering with the Astra nameplate. But we're not expecting Astra to become a top-seller as it was for Holden in years gone by.


Length: 4,419 mm
Width: 2,013 mm (including mirrors)
Height: 1,510 mm
Wheelbase: 2,685 mm
Boot capacity: 370 litres   (back seat 'up')


The towing capacity of an appropriately equipped Opel Astra 1.6 litre automatic hatch is 1,500 kg for a braked trailer (730 unbraked). This is a much better weight than what some competitors offer.

After Sales

The warranty operates, with conditions, on a 100,000 kilometre/3 year basis. Capped price servicing is available from local Opel dealers (conditions apply). There is also roadside assistance for three years from the date of the car's first registration (conditions apply).


Opel Australia likes the idea of adding options to the base offering, thus boosting the price and the profit margins. Of course, not everyone wants fries with their order (to use an overused expression) but if you can get over the price of the very nice Opel Astra test car you will find a car that is quite pleasing in its presentation and its on-road behaviour. If you can go without the options you will find a car that is pleasing but without the pizzazz that so many of us 'need' these days.

NOTE: * Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice, as are the specifications.


More Opel News ..... here
General Motors News ..... here

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