Saturday, December 19, 2015

Opel/Vauxhall Astra K

The car that was once used as Top Gear's Reasonably Priced Car for three seasons has been renewed for a brand new generation and for the latest generation, the new Opel/Vauxhall Astra K wants to live out in its own rules just as how its predecessor fared well of being a reasonably priced car used by celebs round the track.

2016 Opel Astra
2016 Vauxhall Astra

Well, there they are and judging from its looks, it looks rather identical to its reasonably priced predecessor but no matter which side you're looking at, this is still the reasonably priced car you would hope for if you're not in the mood for something boring nor exciting. Who knows, it could becoming the ideal car to start if you got a driving license for the first time since it only costs 17,260 Euros (15,295 Pounds) plus the added extras and the insurance needed before setting off on your maiden drive through town.

2016 Opel Astra
2016 Vauxhall Astra

So, what choices do you get under the bonnet? Well, the new Astra K is offered with a new 1.0T SIDI, 1.4L, 1.4L SIDI Turbo, 1.6 SIDI Turbo, and a 1.6L CDTi (with an available Bi-Turbo) engine. Most of the engines are new so let's introduce those who aren't familiar with them. The new 1.0T SIDI has 105PS of power and 170Nm of torque with CO2 emissions ranging from 102 to 96g/km. This engine is mated exclusively with a brand new 5-speed semi-automatic EasyTronic 3.0 gearbox. That gearbox sounds new and the way it behaves feels somewhat similar to Suzuki's Auto Gear Shift gearbox used on their smaller cars, if I dare say. Anyway, also new is the 1.4 engine, which in turbo guise, can get up to 150PS of power, and 245Nm of torque, so it's a great mid-range choice for those who wanted something of a well-balanced performer. And then, there's the 1.6 CDTi engine where, in most economical versions, it promises better CO2 emissions of less than 95g/Km. Although diesel versions have lesser power ratings than petrol versions, it has better torque to keep things afloat.

Underneath the Astra is a newly developed platform that will be used on the next Chevrolet Cruze, resulting to a much smaller size and lighter bodywork and when combined with the most clever suspension setup available to most European cars, not only it feels good to drive but it's surprisingly comfortable. I might have a feeling that when this new model compare this to the previous model round the Top Gear track, chances are that the new Astra will lap faster than the old one. The same way that the Kia cee-apostrophe-d did when it was renewed years ago.

For safety, the new Astra's front camera system, includes traffic sign recognition, following distance indicator, forward collision alert and an active lane-keep assist indicator. It even comes with an advanced park assist which allows this car to park by itself. Sounds witchcraft to us but flattering if you engage this nifty gadget at your expense. What's even more clever in the new Astra is the new IntelliLux LED Matrix headlights which adjusts automatically depending on time and driving conditions.

2016 Opel Astra interior
2016 Vauxhall Astra interior

So, with the new Astra getting more of a reasonably priced car as the hopefuls hoped for, the interior is well poised, well balanced, comfortable, and more high tech. It even comes with climate control, ergonomic sports seats, AirWellness, and the new IntelliLink infotainment system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The spacing's not so bad either but you can expect more cargo space in the Sport Tourer later on.

In conclusion, the new Astra is a major improvement to its predecessor in terms of technology, driving dynamics, and user friendliness. Despite its added improvements, the new Astra retains its reasonably priced character, making it very accessible to anyone who wanted to buy a reasonably priced car to drive anywhere. Truth be told, we are getting jealous why Top Gear never featured it in the show and we want to see how it performs on the TV show in the near future.

Photo: General Motors

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