Arguably sitting in one of the most competitive segments in Ireland, the new Opel Astra is more stylish inside and out, is great to drive and comes with a level of refinement on which some rivals cannot compete.
Available in three guises, Hatch, Saloon and Sports Tourer, the new Astra comes with a choice of three engine variants. This consists of two petrol engines and one diesel. The petrol engine options are a 1.0 turbo with 105bhp mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. A 1.4i with 100bhp with 5-speed manual or a 1.4 turbo with 150bhp mated to a 6-speed manual. The diesel option is a 1.6 CDTi with 110 or 136bhp mated to a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic. All engines are excellent and deliver their power impressively.
The Opel Astra delivers a very impressive ride quality overall. It feels composed yet comfortable at all times. Its setup makes it feel agile and impressive through the corners but at the same time will absorb the worst an Irish B road can throw at it. It goes up against stiff competition like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus and somehow manages to combine the best traits of both of these cars have to offer, by matching the agility of the Focus and the refinement of the Golf.
All three engine variants come with strong levels of refinements with the 1.6 CDTi diesel in particular keeping noise to a very low level. The Astra comes with a choice of four trim levels S, SC, SRi and Elite. Standard specification is very impressive with items like air conditioning, electric front windows, heated door mirrors, remote central locking and Bluetooth. Move further up the trims and you get further comforts such as dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, heated leather multi-function steering wheel, heated seats front and back and IntelliLink Navi 900 system.
The new Opel Astra brings with it a new level of refinement with one of the best interiors in its class. It is a seamless blend of design, quality materials and finish. The SRi model is possibly the best specification when it comes to value for money considering its generous level of specification. The dashboard is a lovely blend of black materials with piano black inserts and contrast aluminium inserts. The seats are comfortable and supportive, particularly if you opt for the ergonomic sport seat pack (standard in the Elite). It is a very refined and impressive new interior.
While the latest model of the Opel Astra has not gone through the Euro NCAP safety test as of yet, it is likely to score very well. It comes with an excellent level of safety kit and technology as standard. These items include electronic stability control, hill start assist, tyre pressure monitor, ISO-FIX, electronic engine deadlock immobiliser and a full host of airbags.
Despite the new Opel Astra having a marginally smaller body mass than its predecessor, it actually has more room inside thanks to some clever chassis design. Rear passengers benefit from an additional 35mm of legroom while headroom is still good. Boot space is generous at 540 litres with the rear seats also folding thanks to a 60:40 split which opens up the cabin for storage of large luggage items.