OPEL'S LATEST HATCH: The new Opel Astra 1.4T Sport forms part of the automaker's model-assault in South Africa. Image: Charlen Raymond
Wheels24 correspondent Egmont Sippel names his top 10 cars of 2016. Below is his review of the Opel Astra 1.0T.
Cape Town - If the Civic and Megane represent a jump over their predecessors - you know, from here to there - the new Astra executed a Bob Beamon-like take-off, to land perhaps even a centimetre or two beyond the line in the sand drawn by Volkswagen’s Golf.
OK, Beamon’s effort in Mexico’s 1968 summer Olympics was way more dramatic. Bob broke the existing world long jump record by 55cm (or almost two feet). Half a century later, and it remains the second longest wind legal jump in history.
But Bob never competed against the Golf.
Could it trounce the Golf?
Now, could the Astra really be better than the VW stalwart? It sounds like heresy, but one can make an argument for it.
Entry points still favour the Golf; the Astra doesn’t feel quite as solid, body control might not be quite as taut and the Opel’s suspension, compliant as it is, might not quite deliver the VW’s all-round depth of talent.
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But with almost 200kg of flab cut out of the new Astra, the Opel is now vastly improved in terms of dynamics, fuel consumption and stopping distances. Add a slippery shape, advanced tech, good engineering and solid build quality, and the pride of Rüsselsheim now rivals the king of Wolfsburg in terms of on-road performance and refinement.
One example: from 100km/h, the Astra comes to a standstill in a comfortably shorter distance than the comparative Golf.
Add more interior space, better standard spec and stronger engines at the same pricing points - the cheapest 110kW Astra undercuts the cheapest 110kW Golf by R40 000 - and you’re looking at a winner.
The cheapest Astra overall, in the meantime, undercuts the cheapest Golf by R50k. Granted, that you’ll have to make do with 1.0-litre 3-cylinder grunt instead of 1.2-litre 4-cylinder oomf - but the differences are not big: 77kW/170Nm and 0-100 in 11sec versus 81kW/175Nm and 0-100 in 10sec is not a bad deal when the Astra 1.0T also sips half a litre per 100km less than the Golf 1.2 TSI.
Pretty impressive, I would say. Even Beamonesque.