New Astra saves Opel’s image

2010-10-15 14:58

Gone are the days when the Opel Kadett roamed the streets like the boss of the road. The new Astra doesn’t have half the street cred but it sure is prettier.

The German brand has seen some dark days recently, and the launch of the new Astra could just save their somewhat fading image.

The Opel brand has seen models like the Rekord set milestones. The GSI 16v S, nicknamed Super Boss, and the 200is were unbeatable in their days. The Astra itself brought life back to the brand when the GTC and the OPC models were launched in 2006.

But when one compares this new model to all the Astras, the styling is miles ahead. The design has softened up making it more sophisticated. Its body is much more curvaceous, but its rear reminds one of a combination of VW’s new Polo and a Nissan Tiida. The interior has a good build, quality materials and a solid finish. It’s comfortable, roomy and much better than its ugly ­cousin, the old Corsa. The wind noise coming through the rubbers on the passenger side is disturbing for a new car. It is also very annoying while driving.

Safety features include eight airbags and driver-assist programmes such as anti-lock brake system with electronic brakeforce distribution and traction control.

There are three petrol engines and a brand new chassis bigger than any of its predecessors.

The model range includes a 1.6 litre naturally aspirated (NA) engine with 85kW of power and 155Nm of torque. The 1.4-litre turbo engine replaces the previous 1.8 NA with the same power figures of 103kW and 200Nm. The top-of-the-range 1.6-litre turbo engine kicks out power figures of 132kW and 230Nm.

While there are talks of a three-door model, auto and diesel models, enthusiasts will have to contain themselves until 2012 for the OPC model to arrive on local shores.

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