Superb all-new Opel Astra arrives

I drove the all-new stylish Opel Astra a few months ago on German roads. The versions that we drove handled and performed very well. The styling of the new model could be described as an evolution rather than a revolution, but in this area, it goes further than its great rival - the Volkswagen Golf.

The new Astra arrives this week with an extensive line-up of eight engines and five trim levels. Engines have seen an increase in power with a decrease in fuel consumption and emissions, in particular the 1.4i 16v VVT engine, which increases its power output to 100 bhp yet emits only 129g/km of CO2, meaning a tax band B rating and Road Tax of just €156 pa.

New Astra benefits from comprehensive active and passive safety systems, with all models having as standard: electronic stability programme (esp ), drivers, passengers, side and full-curtain airbags (with the front passenger airbags having an off switch to facilitate the fitting of a front child seat ), active-safety front headrests, all-round seatbelt warning system, a pedal release system, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and Isofix on two rear seats.

The first trim level is the Astra S, starting from €20,695, featuring generous levels of standard equipment including air conditioning, CD player with MP3 plug-in, daytime running lights, electric front windows, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, remote central locking, height-adjustable driver’s seat and reach and rake adjustable steering column.

The Astra 'S' is available with 1.4i 16v VVT 100 bhp and 1.6i 16v VVT 115 bhp petrol engines and 1.3CDTi 16v 95 bhp and 1.7CDTi 16v 110 bhp diesel engines. The 1.6i engine is also available with an optional 6-speed automatic gearbox.

The next level is the 'SC' model which includes more style and equipment from the 17” 5-spoke “Structure” wheels, cruise control, steering-wheel mounted audio controls and interior ambient lighting complemented by ‘Silver Dust’ dashboard surfaces; and starts from €21,445.

This is followed by the Astra 'SRi', which is is the sportier model priced from €22,695. Also, check-out the Astra 'SE' spec. level, from €23,495. It is a very well-equipped model. And finally, the Elite is the top-of-the-range Astra.

Five-star Euro NCAP rating

Euro NCAP gave its highest points ever for the Astra’s active head restraints, which protect against whiplash – the most common occupant injury suffered when a car is struck from behind. Opel’s active head restraint system is also completely reversible, requiring no dealer reset after a rear-end collision.

Passenger occupant protection in a frontal impact attracted a very high score for the Astra, but points were also added for its advanced Electronic Stability Control+ system, which improves vehicle stability by detecting and minimising skids.

The Astra’s rigid passenger compartment contributed to the exceptional rating, too. The structure is made from high-strength steel that Vauxhall’s engineers designed for the least deformation and highest survival space in case of a crash. The front and rear of the cabin are also surrounded by crumple zones that deform and protect in a safe, controlled manner.

2009 Golden Steering Wheel winner

European car buffs have handed the Opel Astra its first major trophy, by winning the Golden Steering Wheel in the compact class. It is the most prestigious award issued by Auto Bild magazine group. This year’s election involved readers in 26 European countries, representing more than 40 million readers overall.

The all new Opel Astra won by a comfortable margin, getting top marks in the engine, fuel consumption, chassis, braking, steering and driver assistance safety systems categories. Race drivers and technical experts ranked the Astra number one, awarding the Astra seven out of eight points while technical experts awarded the compact car five out of eight.

Check out the all-new Opel Astra from this week.

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