Opel Astra SRi Limited Edition car review

Opel Astra Diesel Review (2009-2015)

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.

Read our latest review of the Opel Astra here.

Scroll down for the full review or watch my video review below!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPgvvzanzXE]

The Opel Astra is one of the best looking in its class, very well proportioned. 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 the Opel Astra

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.

Opel Astra SRi Limited Edition
The interior of the 2015 Opel Astra SRi

Driving the Opel Astra

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. 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.

Opel Astra SRi Limited Edition car review
The Opel Astra diesel in an efficient family car

What are my options?

Standard equipment on the SRi Limited Edition includes air con, cruise control, Bluetooth, digital radio, centre console with ambient lighting, front fogs and LED daytime running lights. There is also 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. 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.

This is a great generation of the Astra

Model Tested: Opel Astra 1.6CDTi SRi Limited Edition Hatch
Price: €23,995
Engine: 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 110PS
0-100km/h: 11.6 seconds
Economy: 74.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 100g/km
Motor Tax: €180 per year

Caroline Kidd

The 2015 Opel Karl

Opel Karl Review (2015)

The 2015 Opel Karl
The 2015 Opel Karl

I’m just back from the Netherlands where I was driving the new Opel Karl 2015 model. Karl is Opel’s new five door city car, and slots in below the Adam and the Corsa in Opel’s small car range.

While the Adam rocks great style and customisation options, the Karl is a simpler car that does the things that 3 door Adam doesn’t do so well – space and practicality. It’s a cheaper car to buy too and will take on the likes of the Suzuki Celerio, Volkswagen Up!, and Hyundai i10 in the busy city car segment when it arrives in Ireland this August.


At the launch, one of the Opel executives described Karl as a “good looking chap without ostentation and no bling bling”. It’s a good description. The Karl is smart looking without drawing much attention to itself.

Karl comes with five doors as standard and Opel is keen to emphasise that there are three designated seats in the back, which you don’t find in all city cars. The middle seat is small so it’s more suitable for occasional use or for a child. The boot is 206 litres, which is better than some of its rivals, and not as good as others. The rear bench split folds 60:40 as standard.

The interior will be familiar in its style if you’ve seen the Adam and new Corsa. It’s got a solid and quality feel without too much glam, though a new Intellilink infotainment system with a  7” touchscreen is coming next year.

The steering wheel and dials look mature, like that from the larger Corsa so you don’t feel like you’re behind the wheel of a budget car. I counted three cupholders in the Karl and there’s storage in the glovebox to stow away a few items, a shelf above it and the door pockets take a good bit of stuff as well. An extra boon is that there is not a pop out window to be seen, as can be common in city cars – there are proper winders for the windows in the back. Hallelujah!

The interior of the Opel Karl
The interior of the Opel Karl


Our test route took us out of the airport on the outskirts of Amsterdam, as far as Edam north east of the capital, and to our hotel in the city of Zaandam. Driving in this region is like driving in extended suburbia punctuated by some short bursts of motorway driving. The Karl was easy to drive and manoeuvre, but I came back with an overriding feeling of solidness that I love finding in this segment. The steering has enough weight in it not to feel like you are fluttering around the place, especially during fast, motorway driving.

Opel wants to keep the range simple and the price low so there is just one engine for Karl. It’s Opel’s new 1.0 litre three cylinder petrol engine that does without a turbo in the Karl and produces 75hp in its naturally aspirated state, putting its power to the road with a five speed manual gearbox. The performance is not exhilarating but it is adequate, the refinement good and it's not too noisy at speed.


The 1.0 litre engine produces 104g CO2/km so when it arrives in Ireland it will cost €190 to tax. The official economy is 62.8mpg.


For the Irish market there will be three trim levels, S, SC and SE. Standard equipment on S model includes 6 airbags, Hill Start Assist, tyre pressure monitoring system, an electric driver’s window, trip computer, remote central locking and 14” steel wheels.

SC gets both front windows electrically operated, a lane departure warning system, City mode to lighten steering from a button on the dash, electric door mirrors, cruise control, driver’s seat height adjustment, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and front fog lights.

SE adds climate control, USB port, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, rear tinted windows and 15” alloys.

The Opel Karl is a good value city car
The Opel Karl is a good value city car


Karl S from €11,995

Karl SC from €13,695

Karl SE from €14,695

Caroline Kidd

The Opel Adam Rocks!

Opel Adam Rocks Review (2015)

The Opel Adam Rocks!
The Opel Adam Rocks!

The Opel Adam Rocks is a new addition to the Adam city car family and it is what Opel is branding as an “urban mini crossover”. The changes are largely cosmetic. But the launch of the Adam Rocks coincides with the arrival of Opel’s new 1.0 litre three cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. So it’s kind of like meeting the Adam for the first time all over again!

With a second chance to impress, this is what we really need to find out. Is it worth forking out just under €21,000 for a trendy small car like Opel Adam Rocks?

Watch the video review of the Opel Adam Rocks, or scroll down for the written review:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muNy4-SzvW8]

What's new for the 2015 Opel Adam Rocks?

Well on looks alone, it’s a definite yes. Opel Adam Rocks really stands out so be warned this car is not for shy types who don’t like drawing attention to themselves! Opel has lashed on some extra grey plastic cladding along the lower sills and around the wheel arches. They have raised the ride height by 15mm. The results give the Adam Rocks real attitude, with a wider, more aggressive stance than a standard Adam. There are still loads of customisation options to choose from so change the wheels, colour of the roof, or add a few stickers at your will!

Inside, the cabin has a real boutique feel. Every inch of it has been styled, with bits of body coloured dash and textured plastics making it feel a bit special. Your friends will definitely know this is no budget city car when they sit in. Adam Rocks comes with the addition of a full length panoramic canvas roof that can be opened at the touch of a button from the cabin. It gives the Adam Rocks a bit of a novelty value and it looks very cool when let back - while also flooding the cabin with light.

The small dimensions are great for parking and manoeuvrability but not so good for space for carrying rear passengers or cargo. The space inside is more comparative to a Fiat 500 than the larger MINI Hatch and DS 3. The boot is small at 170 litres with a typical narrow but deep shape. While you will fit two adults in the back, the space is tight back there. But if you drive solo most of the time, or with a friend occasionally, you won’t care.

The interior of the Opel Adam Rocks
The interior of the Opel Adam Rocks

Driving the Adam Rocks

To accommodate the higher ride height, parts of the chassis, suspension and steering have been retuned. The Adam Rocks is all the better for these changes. It’s more comfortable out on the open road. It’s still quite a firm ride but you only notice this over very poor road surfaces. That kind of goes with the territory of a small sporty hatch like the Adam Rocks.

I was really impressed with how the car performed on the motorway for a car with such a short wheelbase. It feels stable and planted like a larger car. A bit of added weight to the steering makes the Adam Rocks feel less nervous at speed. It feels gloriously agile around town and accurate steering, lots of grip and a nice, connected to the road feel make it a fun drive through the bends out of town.

There is a little more outdoor noise reaching the cabin with the full metal roof lacking in the Opel Adam Rocks. But it’s not much of a compromise in the grand scheme of things.

Engine options

My test car was fitted with Opel’s new 1.0 three cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and it’s a little gem. It pumps out 115PS and there’s lots of low end torque so it pulls really hard from low revs. It feels really fast, though petrolheads will probably think I’m crazy. 0-100kmh in 9.9 seconds is hardly blistering by today’s standards but somehow it feels potent in a small car like this.

Refinement is also very good for this three cylinder engine. You can barely hear the engine ticking over when the car is idling. You only really hear it when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator. Which you will be doing because you’re having so much fun - and then it’s a nice noise! There is also a 1.4 litre petrol engine with 100PS available. But if your budget can stretch at all, I would highly recommend the turbo unit.

The official economy for Opel Adam Rocks with the 1.0 litre Turbo engine is just over 55mpg. I managed 47mpg over about 500kms of driving on a mixture of roads. Road tax for this model is €200 per year.

The 2015 Opel Adam Rocks is available with a fabulous 1.-0 litre petrol engine
The 2015 Opel Adam Rocks is available with a fabulous 1.0 litre petrol engine

Is it well specced?

In addition to the visual and mechanical updates outlined above, Adam Rocks comes with 17” alloys, air conditioning, leather covered steering wheel, CD player with USB and Aux-in connection, Bluetooth, digital radio, and LED daytime running lights and tail lights.

Opel’s Intellilink infotainment system can be added as an option and adds a touchscreen in the centre of the dash.

The Opel Adam Rocks is competing in a segment where style and image are more important than space and practicality. For a trendy car like the Adam Rocks - the chunky good looks, polished interior, funky colour options and canvas roof - you do pay a price premium. But is it worth it?

Well, yes, because when you take away all the cosmetic stuff, the Adam Rocks is still a great car to drive. It's up there in terms of driver enjoyment with the DS 3 and MINI Hatch. It’s got that sporty edge to it - the zippiness and taut handling. But the engineering is sophisticated enough under the skin to make the car feel solid and dependable for the long haul. In terms of space, the Adam Rocks is more comparative to a Fiat 500, but it is a far more mature and cultivated drive than the tiny Fiat.

Is the Opel Adam Rocks a good small car?

The extra few thousand euro you pay over a standard Adam for the Adam Rocks is well-rewarded in terms of the image upgrade and a better driving car with superior ride and handling. Engine choice does play a factor however. The new 1.0L Turbo is an ideal mate for Adam Rocks, with more life in it than the old 1.4 litre petrol can muster.

Opel is onto a winner with this car. As far as I can see the only challenge for Opel is to get the target market out of their MINIs and into this!

The Opel Adam Rocks is a fantastic small car!
The Opel Adam Rocks is a fantastic small car!

Now check out our review of the super hot Opel Adam S!

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Opel Adam Rocks 1.0 litre Turbo
1.0 litre three cylinder turbocharged petrol
115PS (113bhp)
9.9 seconds
55.4mpg (5.1l/100km)
CO2 Emissions:  
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year

The 2015 Opel Corsa

Opel Corsa Review (2015)

The 2015 Opel Corsa
The 2015 Opel Corsa

The pretty cobbled streets and tree-lined avenues of Paris were a fitting location for the debut of the stylish, new fifth generation Opel Corsa just before the 2014 Paris Motor Show. The launch was a real statement of intent by Opel and all the stops were pulled out to give the fifth generation of Opel’s bestselling small hatchback the best possible start in the world.

Aside from the smarter looks and a brand new interior, we were promised a driving experience more comparable to a larger, more expensive car in terms of comfort and precision, with a new chassis, suspension, steering and engines to deliver the goods.

I got a good impression of the car on our first drive of the Corsa in Ireland at the launch in November. Now it’s time to find out if the new Opel Corsa can really deliver, as I give it a thorough road test on Irish roads.

Opel Corsa Video Review

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7B-hyOOs1U]

I’m happy to report that the new Opel Corsa can now definitely hold its own in fashionable company. The new lower, wider grille and new ‘wing’ shape headlamps at the front are a real highlight and give the Corsa the presence it needs to stand out and be memorable. I love the sculpting along the sides of the car (all the body panels are new), and there’s more definition at the rear too with new light clusters that lift the look of the car.

The test car was finished in a lovely metallic grey blue, which is more interesting to look at than grey and gave the car a grown-up, chic look. For the bold, you can choose red, lime green and even yellow - as well as some more conservative body colours. If you are prepared to sacrifice rear doors, the three door model looks particularly sporty with a more coupé-style roof line.

But stick with the five door model and you will be amazed by the rear headroom and easy access to the rear from the wide-opening doors. There is also generous legroom and a good sized boot of 285 litres. I would have no complaints about space in the Corsa by supermini standards.

Inside the 2015 Opel Corsa

The jewel in the crown is the Corsa’s brand new interior. It’s youthful , fresh and trendy with an interesting mix of surfaces and materials used, including classy gloss black and satin chrome. It looks particularly good with the 7” touchscreen fitted as part of the Intellilink infotainment system (more on that later). There’s a cool simplicity to the white-illuminated instrument dials and sporty steering wheel. For me, the essence of what makes it a great interior is that it’s glam without being over the top, and simple without being boring.

The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa
The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa

Out on the road, the Corsa feels very solid and stable at speed and through corners. The car has a new chassis and Opel engineers have lowered the car’s centre of gravity by 5mm to make the car more stable.

There is also a new speed sensitive power steering system and Opel have worked hard to give us more “feel” in the steering. This was best tested on some of the country roads I always drive the test cars on – the kind of roads that swiftly show you how good a car’s steering and handling is. When you turn into a corner, the Corsa holds the road well and you can really feel the connection between the inputs you are putting on the steering wheel and what the wheels are doing. It’s very precise – I like that.

Driving the Opel Corsa

The Corsa has a new suspension and Opel has tweaked the damping characteristics to make it more comfortable. They’ve improved the roll behaviour and while there is a limit to how much speed the car can comfortably take as you are cornering, certainly on a country road driving within the speed limits you will not be disappointed. If it’s comfort you’re after, the Corsa coped well over pock marked roads and it took motorways in its stride too.

My test car was powered by a punchy 1.4 litre 90bhp petrol engine that has been brought forward from the old car. It’s well up for the job, with enough zip in the lower gears to make it nippy around town and it picks up speed easily on the open road with a good bit of flexibility in the gears so you are never too far away from the power.

Following the trend for squeezing more power from a smaller engine with the aid of a turbocharger, Opel has added a brand new 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol to the Corsa range, available with 90bhp or 115bhp. Both are mated to a new generation six speed manual gearbox. You can read more about what I thought about Opel’s new engines here. On paper, they are more economical, faster from 0-100kmh, and have a raspier engine note which petrolheads will love - but they are also more expensive and only available on top level trims in three and five door Corsa models.

What are my options?

There are a range of petrol and diesel engines with good economy and low running costs available for the Corsa. The 1.3 litre diesels have been reworked to make them more refined and responsive, and the 95bhp version has CO2 emissions as low as 87g/km. My 1.4 litre 90bhp petrol test car returns just over 55mpg from official sources and real world economy was not too far off that.

There are four trim levels: S, Excite, SE and Limited Edition. Excite trim is expected to be popular with a spec including cruise control, alloys, front fog lights, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth included as standard. SE is a bit posher again and adds more equipment, and is exclusive to the five door model. Limited Edition is exclusive to the three door model and is OPC inspired with sporty touches to the interior and exterior, and a sports suspension under the skin.

The Intellilink infotainment system is standard on SE and Limited Edition, though it can be added as an option for €350. It offers connectivity with your smartphone and access to a selection of apps from a 7” touchscreen.

Our test car had a “Winter Pack” added for an extra €395 that included a heated steering wheel and heated front seats (awesome). It was also fitted with an electrically operated sunroof for €961. Though that might be an expensive treat too far, it did make the cabin brighter.

High performance versions like the Opel Corsa GSi are also available
High performance versions like the Opel Corsa GSi are also available

Are Opel Corsas good cars?

The supermini segment is an extremely competitive one so does the Corsa have what it takes to compete at the top of its class?

I think so. There is a touch of class to the styling, while inside the cabin seems to combine the best parts of simple, intuitive design with a bit of glitz and glam. There are a great choice of engines, from frugal diesels to sparkly petrol power. It is a shame that the new turbo engines will be a little out of the budget range for most Corsa buyers but that said, I didn’t feel let down by the 1.4 litre petrol I tested, with enough power at disposal, matched with decent economy and refinement.

Best of all, the new Corsa feels like a very well-engineered car, without any of the compromises one might expect in ride quality for its small size - and steering that is as sharp as any keen driver would expect. In that respect I think Opel has achieved what they set out to do with this new Corsa – deliver a driving experience more comparable to a larger, more expensive car in terms of comfort and precision. The Corsa really has grown up.

Caroline Kidd

Price: €16,495 (Corsa range starts at €14,895)
1.4 litre four cylinder petrol
13.2 seconds
55.3mpg (5.1l/100km)
CO2 Emissions:  
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year

The Opel Corsa 2014 model

Opel Corsa Review (2014)

The Opel Corsa 2014 model
The Opel Corsa 2014 model

Caroline drives the Opel Corsa 2014 model at the Irish press launch in Dublin with Opel Ireland.

The Corsa is an important car for Opel. Its all-round appeal makes it Opel’s bestselling model - it's the type of car that can take on many roles - a car for singles, for young families, a first car or a car for downsizers.

The new Corsa was unveiled just ahead of this year’s Paris Motor Show and the fifth generation of Opel’s evergreen supermini has just had its market launch in Ireland. I went along to the Irish launch to see the car for myself.

While there is nothing radical about the styling of the new Corsa, all the body panels are in fact new. To the untrained eye, aside from a new lower and wider grille, the fifth generation Corsa is identical to its predecessor.

But look a little bit closer and you will see more sculpting along the sides of the car and those new bulbous ‘3D effect’ light clusters at the back combining to give the Corsa a more chiselled look. The 5 door sacrifices some style for the practicality of rear doors and a higher roofline to the rear of the car, but the 3 door is particularly sporty and stylish.

What's new for the Opel Corsa 2014 model?

The ‘newness’ of the Corsa may not be immediately obvious from the outside, but it certainly is inside. There is a new dashboard and centre console with an interesting mix of surfaces and an appealing curvy design. It’s modern and sophisticated and particularly impressive with the 7” touchscreen fitted as part of the Intellilink infotainment upgrade (standard on higher trimmed models).

There are improvements under the skin that promise to make the Corsa better to drive. There is a new chassis, new damping characteristics for more comfort, new steering geometry and a speed-sensitive electric power steering system, and new transmissions.

The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa
The interior of the Corsa

One of the most exciting developments for the new Corsa is the introduction of a new turbocharged petrol unit. Opel is following the trend for squeezing more power and economy from a small engine with their new 1.0 litre turbo petrol engine. It comes in two formats (90bhp and 115bhp) but its availability is model specific.

In the sporty 3 door Limited Edition model, it comes with 115bhp and returns up to 58mpg and road tax is €200 per year. The new turbo engine is also available in the five door premium SE model in a 90bhp variant and will cost €190 to tax per year, returning 64mpg. Other engine options are the existing 1.2i (70bhp) and 1.4i (90bhp) petrol engines, and the 1.3 CDTi diesel in 75bhp and 95bhp variants.

Driving the new Corsa

There was a selection of Corsas to drive at the launch with various engines and trim levels. Early indications would suggest the new turbo engine is a peach, nippy and refined, but it is more expensive than the other engines in the range. I drove it in both the 90bhp and 115bhp variants but they both felt equally capable.

Aside from the new engine power casting a warm glow on the new Corsa, it seems like a very capable little car and on the launch it transitioned seamlessly across a variety of roads from motorway, city, and more rural roads without any screams for a breather. It was comfortable for driving and for being a passenger in, with good space front and rear.

The trim levels are S, Excite, SE and Limited Edition, the latter which is a sporty 3 door model. Prices start at €14,895 for the entry level 3 door model in S trim with a 1.2 litre petrol engine.

At the launch I got a closer look at the SE trim and the Limited Edition model. SE has a smart feel with nice seat covers and black and grey interior and pretty much all the equipment you will need.

Did you like it?

Limited Edition is just gorgeous, inside and out. There is a swathe of gloss black across the dash and a red strip integrated into it to match the sporty character of this OPC-inspired model. It’s also the most expensive 3 door model in the Corsa range at €19,395.

Opel Ireland expect Excite trim to be the bestseller here and the spec includes alloy wheels, front fog lamps, Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted audio controls, cruise control, LED DRLs, leather covered steering wheel and height adjustable driver's seat on top of standard equipment like electric front windows and door mirrors, and hill start assist .

Intellilink, Opel’s infotainment system with digital radio, USB and Bluetooth with voice control, comes as standard on SE and Limited Edition trim.

While I think the new grille design is a great addition to the new Corsa, I would have liked to have seen a little more adventure in the styling of the rest of the car. But I can’t fault the Corsa on the smart new interior and first impressions would indicate that this little German model is now an even better all-rounder than before.

New Corsa on sale in Ireland now
New Corsa on sale in Ireland now

Caroline Kidd