Every brand has their key models in a market. For Volkswagen it’s undoubtedly the Golf, BMW the 3 Series, Toyota the Hilux, Ford the Focus and so on. For Opel, who have been dwindling near the bottom of the sales charts for the better part of a decade, the launch of the new Opel Astra K is their make-or-break model.
It will be their biggest seller across all models, and arguably the most important model in their resurgence locally. It’s a good thing, then, that the Opel Astra K comes with the backing of being recently crowned European Car of the Year for 2016. Equally as important is that this 11th generation Astra (formerly Kadett) is set to be not only the best Astra to date, but the best Opel to date.
Big hopes upon its shoulders then – can it live up to the hype?
The Opel Astra K is built upon Opel’s new D2XX platform, and along with other weight-saving measures, a total of 120kg-200kg have been shaved off compared to the previous model. The external footprint is also smaller compared to the old model (5cm shorter), but with a larger interior both for occupants and cargo. But despite the weight-loss program, the Opel Astra K is stiffer than ever – 13 percent so – making it safer and more agile.
To improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions, a highlight of the Opel Astra K is the new electro-mechanical steering setup, which is one of the areas Opel has saved weight – a 2.8kg reduction.
Engine and Transmission Line-Up:
As the latest and most advanced Opel, the Opel Astra K features the latest ECOTEC turbocharged engines. The range locally is limited to 3 petrol variants only at this stage. The 1.0-litre 3-cylinder is a familiar one from the Opel ADAM and Corsa, in this instance tuned to deliver 77kW @ 4500rpm and 170Nm @ 1800rpm, with claimed fuel consumption of 4.3l/100km. The 1.0 ECOTEC is available with a 5-speed manual gearbox only.
The 1.4-litre turbo 4-cylinder is also relatively well-known to us now, also featuring in the Opel ADAM S and Corsa Sport. It outputs 110kW @ 5000rpm and 230Nm from 2000-4000rpm when equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox, while the 6-speed automatic gets a boost in torque with 245Nm. Fuel consumption is claimed at 5.5l/100km, but performance is still readily available with a 0-100km/h time of 8.5 seconds (the automatic adds half a second to that) and a top speed of 215km/h.
Topping the engine line-up is a new 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder motor – the Sport model in the range and the most potent Opel Astra K you can get until an OPC arrives. 147kW @ 5500rpm and 280Nm @ 1650-5000rpm, with an additional 20Nm available on over-boost, means the Opel Astra K Sport will sprint from 0-100km/h in 7 seconds before topping out at 235km/h.
A Technological Tour De Force:
Opel’s latest philosophy has been to bring technology to the masses by equipping ‘expensive’ technology in affordable vehicles. Auto-parking and blind spot assist are two such technologies that Opel has placed in the ADAM and Corsa – but in the Opel Astra K there is more than ever before.
For the first time in South Africa, the Opel Eye front camera is equipped to an Opel model. This front-facing camera enables and assists with a range of technologies including Opel’s IntelliLux LED Matrix System, Traffic Sign Assist (TSA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Following Distance Indication (FDI), and Forward Collision Alert (FCA) with Low Speed Collision Mitigation Braking (LSCMB).
It’s not all just alphabet soup though – it’s technology we’ve never seen in this segment before. Opel’s IntelliLux LED Matrix System is the first time LED Matrix lighting has been seen in this segment – usually reserved for far more expensive vehicles. This anti-glare full-LED lighting system boasts 8 LED light clusters per headlamp unit, which can be individually deactivated to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. This is available as a R20 000 option on the 1.6T Sport model.
Additionally, the Opel Astra K also features blind spot assist, and Advanced Park Assist with a rear-view camera, front- and rear park distance sensors, and auto-parking capabilities.
Furthermore, the Opel Astra K is fully equipped with numerous safety features, including ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Traction Control, Torque Vectoring by Brakes, and Trailer Stability Program – the latter of which detects instability when towing and brakes selected wheels to maintain control of the trailer. The Opel Astra K boasts a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating, with a full suite of airbags.
In the way of passenger comfort and entertainment, ergonomic seats have been equipped for maximum comfort and support. On some models (1.4T Sport and upwards), the Opel Astra K is equipped with heated seats and power lumbar support. Air conditioning is standard across the range (climate control from 1.4T Sport upwards), along with cruise control. On all models bar the entry level 1.0T Essentia, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are standard equipment.
The newest iteration of Opel’s IntelliLink infotainment system also makes an appearance in the new Opel Astra K, now with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. R4.0 IntelliLink is compatible with Android 5.0 Lollipop and Appl iOS 8 (or higher) equipped smartphones. Bluetooth hands-free telephony and audio streaming is standard on all models, along with USB ports and auxiliary inputs. Optionally, Navi 900 IntelliLink is available on Sport derivatives, offering a tailored infotainment experience.
Pricing and Specification:
The new Opel Astra K kicks off with a base price of R254 000 for the 1.0T Essentia model. Boasting 16-inch alloys, halogen headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, cloth seats, and hill start assist along with other aforementioned features, it’s an incredibly cheap entry point to such a highly equipped model.
An additional R30 300 (R284 300) gets you the 1.0T Enjoy, which adds front and rear park assist, 17-inch alloys, a leather-clad steering wheel, auto on-off headlamps, front fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Driver Assistance Package that includes FCA, FDI, LKA, LSCMB, and traffic sign recognition is an option.
The 1.4T Enjoy costs R328 000 in manual guise (R338 000 for the auto), but gets you a more potent engine and the Driver Assistance Pack as standard. Put in an extra R26 000 (R354 000 and R374 000) for the 1.4T Sport and you’ll receive 18-inch alloys, rear privacy glass, climate control, heated leather seats, power folding side mirrors, blind spot assist, auto park assist, a rear-view camera, and keyless entry and start.
The range topping 1.6T Sport will set you back R387 000, and features a chrome exhaust tip, as well as more power, and more complex suspension. R20 000 extra (R407 000) will bag you the 1.6T Sport PLUS, with IntelliLux Matrix LED headlamps and LED taillights.