The new Opel Astra: a test drive in the prototype

by time news

We listened twice, but they actually said it: Autobahn festival. The development goal of the new Opel Astra not only had the often popular and often emphasized fun braking factors, but also motorway stability. That was and is an important selling point, even in foreign countries, which are limited in terms of speed, and for that reason alone the German route is a trump card. Chassis, steering, brakes, acoustics, all of this has to be a tad better at speed. Straight-line stability, fast corners and the steadfastness of the brakes at high speed are important to them, assure the Opel engineers, which is particularly noteworthy because the German brand is now part of the French PSA group, which in turn recently joined forces with Fiat rose to a conglomerate called Stellantis.

Holger Apple

Editor in business, responsible for “Technology and Engine”.

If you want to spare yourself the details, make a note of the fact that there is now a lot of French technology in Opel’s heart, which you can tell in the vehicles. In a good sense, this means lower pollutant emissions, better yields and more efficient production than during the long marriage with General Motors, but also certain difficulties, driving an Astra, a Peugeot 308 or the DS, which is also built at the Opel site in Rüsselsheim am Main 4 to make distinguishable. On a first test lap with a prototype that was close to the production standard, we experienced a fresh car with courage to move forward, which only lacked a little fine-tuning. The steering was the biggest flaw, indirect, callous, soft, actually the way we know it from French cars and don’t like it in German cars. The Opel engineers promise that it will be readjusted.

The chassis, meanwhile, proved its real taker qualities on the rustic route between the vineyards of Rheinhessen, it works underground like a well cleaner and allows brisk progress. Only when creeping through built-up areas does it occasionally distribute dry blows into the interior when the street is neglected too much. Here, too, the engineers want to look again to see what can be fine-tuned until the youngest generation comes onto the market.

4.37 meters long





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Test drive
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Opel Astra

The inclined clientele can expect a 4.37 meter long and 1.86 meter wide compact car with the fresh design genes that spread across the model range from the mocha. The front looks fresh into the future, the rear closes tightly, the C-pillar receding to the front gives a coherent dynamic. A wheelbase of 2.67 meters provides more comfortable space than before, and the entire car looks like a leap into a new era. 422 liters fit into the trunk, a variable loading floor finally catches up on previous omissions. A lot of comfort, little noise, solid workmanship and modern technology are sufficient, albeit with limits. It is not clear to us why the engines are not equipped with a 48-volt electrical system in order to reduce consumption and eliminate the unfortunate clatter of the automatic start-stop system.

We suspect reasons on the part of finances, but here savings are made at the wrong end. The engines still meet the applicable emissions standards, of course. There are the 1.2-liter turbo gasoline three-cylinder engines with 110 or 130 hp, known from the group, and a diesel with 1.5 liter displacement and 130 hp. As well as a four-cylinder with a displacement of 1.6 liters, which, with the aid of an electric motor, becomes a plug-in hybrid with 180 or 225 hp system output. The power transmission works either manually with 6 gears or automatically with 8 levels.

The passengers are pampered in the interior with its rather strict lines with the right buttons where they make sense, for example for the radio. “A button is a button,” says the developer responsible, and again we have to listen twice. That we can still experience that, thunder. The decision to mirror the head-up display correctly into the windshield instead of a stupid plastic pane is also a smart one, which is the much better solution and already a recommendation for placing a cross in the surcharge list.

The digital speedometer has a high-gloss coating and is also covered with a special film so that incident sunlight does not cause unwanted reflections. The seating position is a little lower than in the predecessor and fits well, but we generally have our difficulties with the headrests that are strongly inclined forwards on the front seats, which are particularly ergonomic. The headrest designed in this way is supposed to help better in the event of an accident than if it were standing straight, but the forced posture while driving bothers us. Incidentally, this also applies to the sister model DS 4, Opel considers the concept to be a good solution in terms of safety.

The new Astra will be launched in January 2022, and the station wagon, which is particularly popular in Germany, will follow a few months later. The federal election will then be over, and we hope that the development goal can still become an advertising message: Autobahn festival. Oh yes, please!

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