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Reader test: Opel Astra

2009-10-15 08:18

Gareth Diesel

Back in 2006 I bought my new Astra 1.6 Enjoy. Now three years and eight months on, I can report that it was definitely a good choice.

I started looking at possible steeds to fill our garage many months before making the decision – even having thought of stretching our budget far up to the newly launched Kia Sportage. But with shocking service from the salesman (not even a test dive!), I knew after sales would probably be just as bad...

Problem with VW was that I could not even get a salesman to look at me, let alone show me their Golf 5. When cornering a salesman, he then could not find the key for the car on the showroom floor, so VW was off the list...

Next, the BMW 1 Series. Yes, I know many people hate its looks, but I actually think it’s okay. But for the price they ask, I just cannot justify paying R50k more for a badge.

Enter the Astra. I managed to get a great deal with a R10k discount and extras such as smash-and-grab protection, Bluetooth, metallic paint and registration costs thrown in. Great start!

Nice features

Getting the Enjoy model also ensured some nice luxuries such as cruise control, an armrest, steering-mounted controls, one-touch electric windows all round, mags, MP3 compatible CD and lumbar support on drivers chair.

The quality of the Astra is top notch, and having sat in a Golf 5, I would say it easily matches the VW for perceived quality. To date no rattles have shown up in the dash, although there has been a vibration from the left B pillar at times.

Driving the car has been a pleasure. It is no rocket off the line - this is a 1.6 pulling a heavy body round so does take a little longer to get up to speed - but I only notice it when I'm in a hurry. Otherwise it is comfortable to drive and feels upmarket.

A real pleasure is the fuel consumption, I manage to consistently get under 8l/100km, normally round 7.7l/100km and even get it under 7 on the open road – down to 6.6l/100km on a recent trip to the Drakensberg.

Fantastic service

Some negatives are that the aircon and recirculation buttons are very low down and small, forcing you to take your eyes off the road for too long when looking for them. It does get easier with familiarity, but is still not ideal.
Two sensors have stopped working – the crank position sensor and the coolant level sensor, the prior leaving the car immobilised in my garage, and needing a tow. However the maintenance plan covered both without any fuss.

Before buying the Astra, I thought I’d never buy an Opel after hearing so many horror stories about after sales service, BUT...

Service from Williams Hunt Randburg and Fourways has been great. They have been helpful, efficient and sorted out any niggles, if any, every time.

I am not sorry I choose the Astra and have enjoyed the ownership experience from day one. It is a very underrated car in SA and many people have missed out on owning one, thinking that VW and Toyota are their only options.

Pity that GMSA is so far opting not to bring the new Astra to SA.

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