Opel is 160 this year and the brand’s rejuvenation continues apace. The latest addition to the range is the Astra Sport Tourer. It’s nice to look at, fun to drive and very practical in everyday life. SUVs dominate the C segment market but this is a credible to them. (Text: Dimitri URBAIN, Photos: Media.Stellantis.com)
Over the past few years, estate cars sales dwindled massively in favour of SUV ones. However, this type of bodywork still has space left on the market: aesthetics (often more resolved and elegant, better than the car they derive from!), roadholding and good performance… On top of all that,, they often offer more interior space than an SUV while being more aerodynamic, lighter and with better mpg than them… good reasons that should be enough to win punters over, especially in the current economic situation! With its various engine options, the Astra is aimed both at private buyers (mainly families) and the company car market.
The Astra is assembled in Rüsselsheim, the brand’s historic birthplace in the Frankfurt area. This latest model is the Kadett-Astra family’s eleventh generation. Originally, the station wagon was called « Caravan », before becoming a « Sports Tourer » in 2010. Such a groovy name makes it much more desirable than a simple SUV and even imbues it with a lifestyle feel full of premium aspirations. Opel communicates a lot about the « German quality » of its products, while insisting on high levels of equipment available for reasonable money. The Astra features all of the brand’s current styling cues, such as the « Vizor » at the front and the 168-element « Intelli-Led » lighting system. The majority of the body parts are shared with the five-door Astra, from the front to the rear doors, as well as the taillights. Only the rear number plate location gives the game away and allows to tell which one is a hatchback or a Sports Tourer. It is located on the hatch of the Sports Tourer, whereas it sits lower on the 5-door. Compared to this one, the Sports Tourer is 268 mm longer and 9 mm higher, while the wheelbase is 57 mm longer. The roof shape allows a better headroom in the back and the Cx is 0.276.
The Astra uses the latest version of Stellantis EMP3 platform. It is compatible with internal combustion, hybrid and electric engines. Of course, the engine range is the same as in the five-door Astra… and already well known as it also propels many Peugeots and Citroëns. There’s the three-cylinder 1200 cm3 petrol lump with 110 or 130 HP. The diesel engine is a 130 HP four-cylinder 1500 cm3. At the top of the range, there’s a four-cylinder 1600 cm3 hybrid offering 180 HP and 360 Nm, combined with a 12.4 kWh battery. A full charge takes only two hours, according to Opel. A 225 HP hybrid version, as well as fully electric one, will follow in the coming months. The transmission is either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic with three driving modes. The 180 HP hybrid accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds, its top speed is 225 km/h. Opel claims around 1 l/100 km fuel consumption and less than 30 g CO2/ km emissions. Electric range is 60 km and in this configuration, speed is electronically limited to 135 km/h.
The most important estate features are, of course, its boot size and load capacity. The Astra Sports Tourer does not disappoint here. With the rear seat up, the boot measures 103 cm by 103 cm and has a low load sill (60 mm). This gives the car a 597 litres capacity (516 litres for the hybrid version). The movable floor, called « Intelli-Space », can be placed in two horizontal positions as well as at a 45° angle. Opel even arranged a space to store the luggage cover, which is a good idea to avoid damaging it and cluttering the load compartment. There is a space for the charging cable too, preventing it from being dragged around. Easy-to-reach compartments for the first aid kit and tyre repair kit prevent the trunk from being cluttered. Of course, the rear seat can be folded down into three sections, providing a flat loading floor. Then, the available space is 185 cm long and volume is 1634 litres or 1553 litres for the hybrid.
A simplified range
Elegance, GS Line and Ultimate are the three trim levels on offer. A whole range of accessories is available too, from bike racks to roof boxes and, of course, alloy wheels. The interior of the Sports Tourer is identical to that of the five-door and includes the ‘Pure Panel’ dashboard and its two 10″ screens. The central screen is touch-sensitive but a few buttons are judiciously placed right below it, for the most important controls. The range of driving aids is very complete: Intelli-drive 1.0 includes emergency braking, collision warning, drowsiness detection, pedestrian detection and road sign recognition.
There is also a head-up display and a 360° camera. The infotainment system is voice-activated, just say « Hey Opel ». Of course, it is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is even possible to charge your mobile phone via induction. The ergonomics are well thought out, the controls are easy to use and the storage spaces numerous and very practical. There’s nothing to complain about regarding fit and finish. Materials quality is also good, apart from a few plastics more prone to be scratched that are located on the lower part of the dashboard. The front seats are AGR certified and provide excellent support and comfort, with electric adjustments in GS Line and Ultimate trims. Nappa leather is available, as are heated and massaging versions.
Behind the wheel
Despite the extra weight, the hybrid version is the most powerful and the range fastet. It is comfortable and enjoyable to drive, even if it is a little less agile than the petrol version. Road behaviour is not sporty but it is tidy enough and is an excellent compromise between efficiency and comfort. Steering is precise and well balanced. Bodyroll is well contained. The Astra naturally oversteers and is always bening and reassuring. The diesel engine may be less attractive, but it is still a good choice for long distance drivers. The petrol version is expected to take most private customers sales while the hybrid will appeal to company car drivers. The three-cylinder petrol engine is noisier than the one in the hybrid version but it is eager and pleasant to use.
We were able to test it hooked to an eight-speed auto, both on the motorway and on German countryside winding roads. The gearbox is rather well suited to the car, making it easy to accelerate when necessary. During the test, we recorded 7 l/100 km in mixed use. The hybrid version was around 3 litres per 100 km. Driving the hybrid version is very pleasant in electric mode and the transition from thermal engine to electric power is seamless for the driver. The Astra is a very good car. If you fancy a Peugeot 308 qualities but can’t quite past its look and/ or want a normal-sized steering wheel then the Astra is for you. The Astra’s road manners, load volume and price should all appeal to you. It starts at €28,400 for the Edition version with a 110 hp petrol engine and manual gearbox. Diesel prices start at €34,900, with automatic gearbox as standard, while the 180 bhp hybrid version is available from €39,750. Extras are reasonably priced too.