Cars - Opel

Road tests and reviews of the latest Opel models available in South Africa

2016 Opel Astra re-visited

By Franky Johnson

Opel's new 2016 Astra for South African markets is designed and engineered around four binding principles: efficiency, design, connectivity, and advance driver assistance and safety technology.

Efficiency

Every component of the body shell has been mass optimised to give the new Opel Astra maximum efficiency. Opel engineers have achieved mass reductions of between 120 kg and 200 kg compared to the previous generation Astra.

Further weight savings were gained in the body-in-white which has a weight reduction of 20 per cent from 357 kg to 280 kg. At the same time torsional stiffness has been improved by 13 percent, resistance to bending improved by 2 percent for purity of handling and exceptionally low noise, vibration and harshness.

Analysing and assessing the weight of every component helped the engineering team develop a car that was not only safe and comfortable, but rewarding to drive. In addition to an 80kg-lighter body-in-white, the new Astra also benefits from a further 50 kg reduction in weight from its chassis. This has been achieved through use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength low-weight steels, compact sub frames and weight reductions to the front and rear axles, wheels and brakes.

The new body structure’s torsional rigidity has not been compromised, and in fact there’s an increase in torsional rigidity from 18.6 to 19.0 kNm/degree. This solid structure ensures a firm foundation for optimising the new Astra’s handling and ride characteristics, as well as helping to reduce noise and vibration in the cabin.

Focusing on two key areas has enabled Opel to bring a dynamically efficient car to market: aerodynamics and weight reduction. Opel’s engineers have achieved both positive goals without any negative impact.

Designers of the new Opel Astra have used intelligent engineering solutions to make a vehicle with smaller exterior dimensions while increasing interior space. The new Astra is 49 mm shorter and 25 mm lower than the outgoing model. Efficient use of space and clever packaging has resulted in a roomier interior with 35 mm more rear legroom and 22 mm more front headroom.

Improvements in the driver’s seating position have resulted in better visibility for the driver.

The new Astra is significantly more aerodynamic than its predecessor and class rivals, with wind-cheating drag co-efficient of just 0.285 versus 0.32 on the previous generation. Cross sectional area is down to 0.642m2 from 0.770m2, resulting in less drag for improved fuel efficiency and effortless performance.

Design

Inspired by the low-slung and sleek Monza Concept, the new car’s lean design makes Astra look more athletic than ever before. Evolution of the Opel design philosophy ‘sculptural artistry meets German precision’ ensures that the new Astra catches the eye with a lighter, more agile appearance.

At the front, the Opel design team wanted to make the new Astra look as wide as possible to give it a dynamic stance. The Opel Blitz integrated in the centre of the chrome bar on the grill, and the characteristic ‘blade’ sweeping towards the rear ensure that the new Astra is immediately recognizable as a member of the Opel family. The headlamps, which are sleek and sporty, flow seamlessly into the grill aperture forming a distinctive graphic.

The most significant design cue is the divided, ‘blacked-out’ C-pillar, creating the impression of a floating roof.

Overall, the design reflects the new Astra’s key messages: leaner, lighter, more efficient, dynamic.

Inside, gracefully sculpted shapes are combined with premium materials and functional clarity. The all-new interior of the Astra sets the yardstick for compact class design. Switches and controls are reduced to an absolute minimum, supporting the efficiency and ease of use that is at the core of the Astra.

The centrepiece of the new Astra’s interior is the award-winning IntelliLink system, though the front seats also deserve a special mention thanks to their low weight (10 kilos lighter than before), contoured shape. Their compact design is also noteworthy, which means they take up as little space as possible and contribute to the spacious rear compartment. Sport models are equipped with electrically adjusted, heated front and rear leather seats.

Connectivity

An important aspect of Opel’s continuing democratisation of technology comes in the connectivity/infotainment sphere and the new Astra continues this tradition with the addition of cutting-edge features such as phone projection technology through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Also making its debut is Opel’s next-generation R4.0 IntelliLink infotainment system. This brings smartphone connectivity and apps in to the cabin for customers with compatible Android 5.0 Lollipop and Apple iOS 8 (or higher) smartphones.

All IntelliLink systems come with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, audio streaming, aux-in, USB ports and Digital Audio Broadcast DAB+ as standard, enabling a better radio selection and reception.

In addition, Navi 900 IntelliLink (an option on Sport models) offers a high level of personalisation – the home screen can be tailored according to customer preferences. It also offers a ‘favourites’ concept, which gives users a possibility to adapt the infotainment system to their individual needs. Up to 60 favourites including radio stations, phone contacts, artists, playlists and navigation destinations can be stored.

Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features you’d want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle’s display in a smart, simple manner, allowing drivers to make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri. Apple CarPlay interfaces with Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and compatible third party apps. A full list of those apps can be found at Apple.com/iOS/carplay.

Android device owners will however have to wait a bit longer to enjoy the benefits of Android Auto until the App becomes available for download in South Africa. Android auto is built around Google Maps and associated apps, as well as a growing audio and messaging app ecosystem that includes WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify, and podcast players. A full list of supported apps is available at Android.com/auto.

Whatever one’s preference, the bottom line is that an Astra driver will never have to look at their cellphone whilst on the move again.

Advance driver assistance and safety

For the first time in South Africa the new Astra is available with the latest generation Opel Eye front camera. The camera has a wide range of function which include monitoring the IntelliLux LED Matrix System, Traffic Sign Assista (TSA); Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Lane Keep Assist (LKA); Following Distance Indication (FDI); Forward Collision Alert (FCA) with Low Speed Collision Mitigation Braking (LSCMB)

Added to this is the new The IntelliLux LED Matrix system which consists of 8 LED light sections per headlight, which can be individually activated and in total, constitute the high beam light distribution. These are controlled via the Opel Eye front camera, which registers the preceding and on-coming traffic, as well as recognising ambient light, for example street lighting in urban areas.

MODEL RANGE AND PRICING
1.0T Essentia - R 254 000
1.0T Enjoy - R 284 300
1.4T Enjoy MT - R 328 000
1.4T Enjoy AT - R 338 000
1.4T Sport MT - R 354 000
1.4T Sport AT - R374 000
1.6T Sport MT - R387 000
1.6T Sport PLUS MT - R407 000

Option Packs:
Astra Hatch Enjoy Driver Assist Pack (Opel Eye Front Camera System) - R6 300.00
Astra Hatch Essentia R 4.0 IntelliLink - R4 000.00
Astra Hatch Sport Navi 900 IntelliLink - R10 700.00

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