Test Drive: Opel Astra PHEV: the newcomer is looking for a seat under the sun

The Opel Astra PHEV is aimed mainly at the company car market. It starts from € 39,000 euros. Even if it’s got a very long standard kit list, that’s not cheap at all but that doesn’t seem to bother many people these days.

The Opel Astra uses a Peugeot 308 platform but you wouldn’t tell they’re sisters under the skin. The Astra’s unique design is a real success. It includes the brand’s Vizor grille. A two-tone paintjob is available in GS trim, like our test car that costs € 42,289. It also wore nice 18-inch Pentagon wheels with red highlights (500€) perfectly matching the body colour. The whole thing gives it a very sporty character tand when we learn that it  got 180 HP under the bonnet, we found it even more attractive. However, if such power would have had the compact Opel flying ten years ago, it’s no longer the case in 2022… it is just adequate to move the sixth generation Astra’s 1700 kg mass without too much trouble.

I like it

Opel is now part of the Stellantis group and the Astra’s interior is as nice as its exterior design. Inside, “detox” is the name of the game. The dashboard is obviously Opel’s « Pure Panel » featuring  two large 10-inch screens. Only a few switches remain for the heater/defroster.  The three-spoke steering wheel is nice to look at and pleasant to grab. It’s very easy to find a perfect driving position thanks to the excellent and ergonomically sound AGR seats, which are sited low enough for our taste!

Quite clever

The Astra’s interior oozes quality and we could say that you get what you paid for, even some tipically French touches can be found scattered here and there. We tested the car back in October and the weather was quite nice. If you charge the car’s battery as often as possible, fuel consumption will be quite impressive. We drove it over 464 km and average fuel consumption was just 5.6 l/100 km. Once the battery is fully charged, the claimed electric range is 48 km.

I don’t like it

Access to the back seat is nt that easy and once seated there, visibility is quite poor… all that being down to the rather sporty body design. Boot capacity is just 305 dm³, as the battery takes up some space. Fortunately, there is a useful storage space for the warning triangle, first aid kit and yellow jacket under the floorboard.

Why I buy it

If you must get a PHEV car as your next company wheels and… you’re not keen on an SUV, then this Astra would be an ideal choice. It leaves the trendy market to the Peugeot 308 and DS4, using some reputable technology in a rather distinctive but unofffensively designed package. Compared to the previous generation, the current Astra boasts state-of-the-art equipment such as matrix LED headlights, a 360° camera, a head-up display and even a semi-autonomous driving assistant. Hopefully, all that should be enough to justify the steep price rise.

Why I don’t buy it

The current Opel Astra might look sporty but there’s no real fun to be had behind the wheel, unfortunately. A problem it’s got in common with the Toyota Corolla, to name just one of its competitors.  However, the German car is not sold as a sporty car, even if its 180 HP would suggest otherwise. No point in selecting the more powerful 225 bhp version : no more fun and feedback behind   the wheel, unfortunately. We felt the steering was too heavy, even if the quite stiff suspension set up is a bonus in our view. The brake pedal didn’t really insire confidence. Its action was « on-off » all the time. Dosing braking power at low speeds was quite difficult and certainly not pleasing at all for the car’s passengers. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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