Superb new Opel Astra arrives

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

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

The new Astra has arrived in Ireland 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. The 1.4i 16v VVT engine increases its power output to 100bhp yet emits only 129g/km of CO2, meaning a tax band B rating and road tax of €156 pa.

New Astra benefits from comprehensive active and passive safety systems, with all models having as standard: Electronic stability programme; driver, passenger, 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 100bhp and 1.6i 16v VVT 115bhp petrol engines, and 1.3CDTi 16v 95bhp and 1.7CDTi 16v 110bhp 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 - 17” five-spoke wheels, cruise control, and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. It starts from €21,445.

This is followed by the Astra SRi, which is the sportier model priced from €22,695. Also, check-out the Astra SE spec level from €23,495, and finally the Elite is the top-of-the-range Astra.

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 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.

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