New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Reader Test: Opel Astra 1.6

2007-07-17 10:20


I chose the Astra above the Mazda3, Golf V and Corolla. A good overall package, but the five-star safety rating was the deciding factor. It is now 27 months later and I have no regrets.

First, the bad

Tyre noise, while not apparent at freeway speeds, is noticeable at city speeds. I would like to hear the tyres less.

1 270 kg is good for safety reasons, but I won't be winning many races. The car certainly isn't slow, it is just a lot of weight to push around.

I really regret not taking the R980 cruise control option. This 1.6 is a VERY happy cruiser on the open road and it's easy to go over 140 km/h without knowing.

I'm still looking for the cup holders.

It took me a while to get used to the clutch action, while my wife had no problems whatsoever and made me feel like a "learner driver".

ALL problems experienced thus far

A flat tyre (full-size spare came in handy)

A stone chipped the windscreen, which had to be replaced

At some point the car had a clutch-shudder, but only on the first pull-away on cold mornings (?) and no matter how hard I tried, it didn?t repeat at the dealership! This gradually cured itself and has not reappeared since.

I sorted out a minor rattle in the roof panel myself and after 48 000 km, there are no further squeaks or rattles in the car.

Now the good

Solid and safe

Build quality (go and see for yourself!)

Sound system

Big boot

Maintenance plan

Many still believe that you can't take your family on holiday with a hatch. Not so with the Astra, it comes with an ample-sized boot that can swallow all the stuff you need for a 10-day holiday. (I included a picture of what I squeezed into the boot once - with the cover in place!) I use a Thule roof box when we go camping, because then you add a tent, four chairs, sleeping bags and plenty of other goodies to the usual list. It also saves me from having to pull a trailer.

The new Astra has a five-star EuroNCAP rating, four airbags and excellent stopping power. I must mention the seven-speaker radio/MP3 player that is of excellent quality and adds a nice touch to the car.

Now the maintenance plan. I often hear people complaining about service costs, but my model came with a free five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan. This sounds like the normal sales-pitch, but I can personally testify that I haven't been charged a cent for either the 15 000-, 30 000- nor 45 000 km services.

It's so nice when you get back to the dealership after work and they just hand you the keys and a clean car. There is no invoice to pay, no "items uncovered ", there isn't even anything to sign! Windscreen wipers, brakes, shocks and the clutch are covered.

I'm not always happy with the workmanship, but at least it's free!

Over the last 48 208 km (80% city driving) I've used 3 948 l of petrol with an average of 8.2l/100 km. On holiday trips I get 6.6l/100 km if I keep a steady 125 km and 7.7l/100 km if I do 140 km/h.

A family car no longer has to be long and wide with a Camry badge on the boot. This Astra is a good buy and a solid family car.

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