2013 Opel Astra Review

2013 Opel Astra Review

Garry Fabian road tests and reviews the 2013 Opel Astra.

2013 Opel Astra review
2013 Opel Astra review

The Opel Astra is back, but there is no sign of a Holden badge.

This time around the Astra spearheads a drive by Opel of Germany to enter the Australian market in a serious way with a three-model line-up that is intended to grow rapidly in a planned challenge to Volkswagen for European bragging rights in Australia.

The Astra is joined by the baby Corsa - once the Holden Barina - and the family-sized Insignia.

So this is not a just a showroom launch for the Astra, even though it’s the key, but a brand launch for Opel. To put the new Opel’s into focus, they are not directly competing with Holden but up against Volkswagen, Peugeot and some of the Japanese brands.

The key message from Opel is that the brand is German, led by design, and has similar strengths to Volkswagen.

When Holden discontinued the Astra some years ago, it was because it could get cheaper baby cars from Daewoo in Korea, but Opel is doing all it can to build good value into its cars.

The move  back to the European GM product been helped massively by the strength of the Australia dollar, which means the bottom line for an Astra is reasonable but not outstanding.

So the 2013 Opel Astra runs from $23,990 for the five-door 1.4-litre petrol turbo.

That’s not great when you can get a similarly-sized Toyota Corolla for less than $20,000, but its right in the heartland for European small cars and looks good enough against the Golf at $21,990 with less power and - Opel says - less standard equipment.

The mainstream bodies are the five-door hatch and Sports Tourer wagon, while the run up the range goes to the 2-litre turbo diesel  and the 1.6-litre turbo petrol from $28,990.

Opel has always done great engineering work, getting the basics right on the chassis and moving up from there.

There is nothing revolutionary about the Astra package, but the various engines deliver solid power and torque, there are six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes (auto only in the Sports Tourer) and things like bi-Xenon lamps and a system that flips the back seat flat in the wagon.

Extra equipment includes a premium centre console, ergonomic sports seats, as well as an adaptive lighting system with cornering lights and auto dipping.

All Astras come with Bluetooth connectivity.

Safety is high on the agenda with the Opel Astra, with six air-bags in all models. All cars have five-star EuroNCAP scores.

So what’s the Astra like to drive? Well it’s good, but not great.

Starting at the bottom, the basic Astra hatch feels rock-solid and responsive. The 1.4-litre engine is nothing special but the 1.6 has more than enough go for the job and promises fuel economy better than 8 litres/100km.

The wagon is slightly more impressive than the hatch, thanks to good space in both the back seat and luggage area, and gives nothing away for driving enjoyment

The switchable FlexRide suspension also adjusts the steering and throttle response, taking the car from OK to keen and sharp in milliseconds.

It has great grip and can easily cope with more power - as we’ll eventually confirm once Opel Australia gets a go-ahead for the hotrod OPC model.

The first impression of the 2013 Opel Astra is much as expected, particularly after so many years on the books at Holden.

NUTS and BOLTS

Engine: 2.0 litre diesel producing 121kW and 350Nm

Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000kms

Origin: United Kingdom

Price: From $31,990




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