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Posted: 13 October 2016
Base price: R381 100
Engine: 1399 cc, direct injection, turbocharged four-cylinder
Power: 110 kW between 5000 and 5600 rpm
Torque: 245 Nm between 2000 and 4000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 9.0 seconds
Maximum speed: 215 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 8.0 l/100 km
Tank: 48 litres
Luggage: 224 – 976 litres
Warranty: 5 years / 120 000 km with roadside assistance
Service plan: 5 years / 90 000 km at annual or 15 000 km intervals
Wise-ass kids don’t always know everything. Take the one who snorted, “Old” as he and his buddies disrespected the new Opel Astra 1.4T Sport parked out front. He was wrong; despite looking much like the old one, at first glance, it’s practically all new.
Apart from being almost five centimetres shorter and 25 mm lower, 2016 versions are about 100 kg lighter. They’re also stiffer, faster, subtly restyled inside and out, aerodynamically enhanced and pack in more safety and convenience kit. And, taking cues from others, offer more room for people. Boot volume apparently stays the same – 224 litres for markets specifying spacesaver spare wheels and 370 for those that don’t. The new car’s fuel tank is eight litres smaller (48 litres vs. 56 previously).
But the biggest difference is in the engines. The new range adopted the 1.0-litre triples from ADAM and Corsa, pumped up power and torque on its 1598 cc turbo and added a completely new 1400 cc, four-cylinder motor. This one has an aluminium block weighing ten kilograms less than the old cast iron unit and is quieter, smoother, more frugal and more powerful. It saves yet more weight with a hollow crankshaft and by integrating the cylinder head with the exhaust manifold. Lubrication is by means of a low-friction, two-stage pump circulating 5W-30 oil.
Power output increased from 103 kW to 110 and maximum torque from 200 Nm to 230 (245 Nm when coupled with a six-speed automatic). Zero-to-100 km/h acceleration with manual ‘box improved from 10.2 seconds to 8.5 and maximum speed went up from 200 km/h to 215. Our test car with automatic did the sprint in nine seconds.
Don’t be misled by the “Sport” handle; you can get exactly the same engine (and performance) in the “Enjoy” package that retails for R36 000 less. The difference is in the details; one of which is rather pleasant leather trimmed, warmed and feature-packed, sports seats. So, at a stretch, “Sport” does fit this model after all.
Other items you give up, should you choose Enjoy instead, include a warmed steering wheel; dark tinted side and rear glass; powered lumbar and tilt adjustments on both front chairs; seat heating in the back; electronic climate control to replace the manual air conditioner; power folding side mirrors; blind zone alert; hands-free parking; rear view camera, and keyless entry and start. You’re also granted the option of fitting a R10 700 Navi 900 IntelliLink system with 8" Touch Screen and navigation.
Standard safety items on this, and higher models, include the Driver Assistance Pack with forward collision alert, following distance indicator, lane keeping aid, low-speed collision mitigation braking and traffic sign recognition.
Although the new engine’s power peaks slightly higher up the scale and its maximum torque band is a bit narrower, it pulls strongly and accelerates well. It turns over more restfully than the old one at 2100 rpm, rather than 2300, in sixth gear at 120 km/h. We had no complaints at all. The extra grunt given to automatics paid off with quick and easy downshifts when needed, earning the torque converter ‘box our “smile” rating. Manual override is by stick only; no paddles.
The hatch door opens down to about 69 centimetres with an 11-centimetre lip. Its space isn’t as big as some others but is neatly square and fitted with a light, four lashing rings and a pair of bag hooks. A useful feature is the ribbed floor that helps to stop loads sliding around too easily. Seatbacks split 1/3:2/3 and fold completely flat - a further advantage of having a spacesaver spare rather than runflat tyres or a pump kit.
Although there are neither armrest nor cup holders in the rear compartment, one gets a full set of belts and head restraints and passengers have a pair of USB ports for charging electronic gadgets. Thankfully, the centre hump is reasonably low so the passenger in the middle isn’t inconvenienced too much. Door bins and other storages are pretty good too, so there shouldn’t be any complaints on that score. Fit and finish is also better than in the 1.4T Enjoy we drove in 2013.
Although this Astra may look rather pricey at first, it appears to have all the safety kit and features offered on more expensive cars; with some of its standard items being costly add-ons from the “other” Germans. It’s a nice car; not dirt cheap by any means but good value. The four billion Euro spent a few years ago, on Opel’s turnaround, has paid dividends.
Test car from GMSA press fleet
Manual version shown
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