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 180 Sport

2009-02-05 11:54

Albert Laubscher

Reader Albert would ideally like to get his hands on an OPC, but his car provides a safe balance with is attractiveness and a few fun traits.

The difference between Neve Campbell and Denise Richards.
That pretty sums up the Astra Sport compared to the OPC.
Confused? Well, the analogy is pretty simple.

Neve is the everlasting beauty who wears a skirt that never really hikes too far above the knees. She will be the ideal companion, have realistic expectations and will probably be loyal to you for life.
Denise, however, is the raucous sex goddess who will have you slamming back Stroh shooters all night, make a fool of you by getting you to “grind” with her  on top of bar tables and show off her assets at every opportunity, all with an attitude to suit.

Men will drool, adolescent boys will over-develop their forearms and she’ll waste your money quicker during this debauchery than you can playing a game of craps. But, in the morning, despite an empty bed, a hangover and an empty wallet, you’ll battle to wipe that stupid smile of your face.
The Astra Sport is a wonderful car. Really. She can cruise effortlessly all day, sticks like a leech in the twisties, has a small thirst and will caress you with her comfort features.

But more importantly, she really looks the part.


Parked next to an Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf 5, Renault Megane, etcetera it really looks like the beauty contest winner. Next to the Japanese and Korean makes, well, out of fear of reprisals, let’s not go there…
Build quality is exceptional, and touch and feel really top class for this segment.

But in terms of neck-snapping excitement, well, this is no rocket. Performance is adequate, maybe even less so. Between speeds acceleration is okay, but get-up-and-go is what you would expect of a large-ish vehicle with a small four potter under the bonnet.

So, then, I am left longing for the excitement of an OPC. But ever so seldom, because, see, the insurance, fuel economy and 18-inch tyres are not for those on normal salaries, unless you are really silly and still get to drop off your washing at mom’s on a Monday morning. 

GM dealers and their service vary from utter rubbish to exceptional.

Cup holders, cloth seats

Older versions have colour coded everything, a detachable tow bar, hill start assist and tyre deflation monitors. Later models are supposed to have a few more kilowatts hiding in the pots, but the aforementioned have been deleted from the spec sheet.

Other gripes are the lack of cup holders and the quality of the fabric on the cloth seats, which is not ideal.

In conclusion then, if you want the beauty contest winner who will provide you with a slight sense of excitement, the Astra Sport is for you.

If, however, you desire the fast life, the OPC is it then, but be warned, it could be difficult keeping pace with it.

Look out for the new Astra later in 2009.


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