The Opel Astra is due to be replaced before the end of the year by an all-new car, but while we wait, Opel Ireland has introduced a new sporty trim to tempt buyers into the current model, the SRi Limited Edition. And with Opel’s new 1.6 CDTi diesel unit under the bonnet that promises more power, economy and refinement, don’t write this Opel Astra off just yet.
Scroll down for the full review or watch my video review below!
The Opel Astra is one of the best looking in its class, very well proportioned, and in SRi trim it looks even better with a lower stance, body kit and huge alloys. There are pretty 18” alloys as standard but my test car had 19” inch bi-colour alloys added as an option for €595, which give it serious street cred.
Inside there is a high quality feel to the cabin of the Astra. The build quality is very good and there are nice touches like gloss black on the door handles, chrome trim around the instrument dials and the leather covered steering wheel feels good in the hands. The seats you get in the SRi are a real highlight – they really hug you! I was less keen on the chrome-effect plastic around the centre console.
Where the interior starts to show its age is in the centre console. The competition has moved on to a more streamlined look with less buttons and functions controlled via a touchscreen. The fan and heat control are easy to find and operate, but things get a bit more complicated when you go to change the radio channel or type something into the sat nav for instance. You use a little rotary dial to navigate between selections, which can be a bit fiddly to use on the move, and then you have to check the screen to make sure you have selected the right thing. Steering wheel mounted controls make things a bit easier.
The boot is 351 litres so that’s better than some rivals and not as big as others. The space in the cabin is good and it’s no problem to sit four adults.
The Astra SRi Limited Edition gets a sports suspension as standard, which is stiffer and lower than in a standard Astra. But even when combined with those big wheels, the ride comfort hasn’t been too adversely affected. The Astra doesn’t crash over bumps and of course, the handling is tight, it feels controlled around corners and it changes direction well. It’s just lacking somewhat that connected to the road feel that you get in a Ford Focus. The extra feedback that reaches the steering wheel in the Focus makes it a bit more fun to drive.
My test car had Opel’s new 1.6 CDTi ‘whisper diesel’ with 110PS and a six speed manual gearbox. You can get the Astra SRi with the same engine tuned to produce 136PS or a 2.0 litre diesel with an automatic gearbox. But really the 1.6 CDTi (110PS) diesel is the best compromise in terms of performance, price and economy.
Opel call it their ‘whisper diesel’, presumably to emphasise its refinement and low noise credentials. When you are stopping and starting around town it’s more of a grumble than a whisper (but definitely not agricultural!), but out on the open road, it really is very quiet. There’s a bit of life in it too. It has loads of power and torque with good flexibility in all the gears so it makes a good diesel hatchback.
The Astra SRi Limited Edition 1.6CDTi (110PS) has emissions of just 100g/km, so it will cost €180 to tax each year. It will return up to 74.3mpg.
Standard equipment on the SRi Limited Edition includes air con, cruise control, Bluetooth, digital radio, centre console with ambient lighting, front fogs, LED daytime running lights, satellite navigation system with 7” colour monitor, sports-style front seats, leather covered steering wheel, front electric windows, body kit, 18” alloy wheels, sports suspension and alarm.
The Opel Astra is a bit of an alternative choice in the five door hatch segment and really the SRi Limited Edition is a last hurrah for the current Astra before it is replaced by an all-new model.
But I just might be a little bit seduced by its pretty face and the huge wheels and body kit on the SRi Limited Edition. The Astra makes a good every day kind of driving car, and though not the most thrilling car to drive in its class, it will still play ball if you want it to.
Where this outgoing model shows its age most is in the interior. The competition has moved on in terms of infotainment and usability. But you cannot deny that the fit and finish in the Astra’s cabin is very high.
The big wheels and sports suspension don’t all that adversely affect the ride comfort and the extra goodies on the SRi make it a good buy. And with that strong 1.6CDTi diesel under the bonnet, there are still lots of reasons to like the Opel Astra.
Model Tested: Opel Astra 1.6CDTi SRi Limited Edition Hatch
Engine: 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 11.6 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 100g/km
Motor Tax: €180 per year