Wow, what a good looking car. Opel's new Astra Sport hatch is right up there with the best of them in terms of style. It really cuts a fine silhouette on the street, especially the one we were driving - the top of the range Astra retailing for $33,490 for the six-speed manual.
Our drive car was a $40 grand plus proposition with six-speed auto, Flex-ride chassis and adaptive forward lighting all adding two grand apiece as well as another $700 for metallic paint and a grand for the 19-inch wheels over the standard 18s.
We were somewhat sceptical about Opel Australia's mission to lift itself into the premium category but this car could carry it off. It offers a premium drive feel, the interior is attractive and functional and build quality is at least the equal of the competition.
But at the money, it's going to struggle against the likes of Mazda3 SP25 (two grand less), Lancer VRX (four grand less) and Ford Focus Sport (nearly six grand less).
This is the newest car on the block featuring a swag of goodies including lowered sports suspension and sporty steering, rear spoiler, dual zone climate control, premium audio, satnav, seat heaters, chiropractic seats, Bluetooth phone with voice control, auto dim rear view mirror, auto wipers and head lights, cruise, electric park brake and a speed limiter among its generous equipment.
But there's no paddle shift and it has a space saver spare. Minor complaints in the greater scheme of things.
Power comes from a turbo 1.6-litre petrol four rated at 132kW/230Nm output. It goes better in Sport mode offering quicker throttle response and a more “live” feeling from the chassis. Fuel economy is a creditable 7.3-litres/100km for the manual, a little more from the auto which does a 0-100kmh sprint in 9.0 seconds.
Comfortable with a sporty edge is how we'd describe Astra's ride which also makes the car quite handy in the twisty bits. Love the seats and the large load space but rear seat legroom is a bit tight with large front seat passengers.
From the driver's seat it's all positive - nothing to complain about - goes well, plenty of roll on acceleration, smooth, quiet, controlled.
It's just the price that's the issue... because the competition is stove hot.
Opel Astra GTC Sport
Price: from $33,490
Warranty: 3 years 100,000km
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder, 132kW/230Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or auto
Thirst: 7.3L/100Km, CO2 171g/km
Mazda 3 SP25
Price: from $31,490
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, 122kW/227Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, FWD
Thirst: 8.6L/100Km, CO2 204g/km
Mitsubishi Lancer VR-X
Price: from $29,490
Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder, 125kW/226Nm
Transmission: 5 speed manual, FWD
Thirst: 8.8L/100km, CO2 210g/km
Ford Focus Sport
Price: from $27,890
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, 125kW/202Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual, FWD
Thirst: 6.6L/100Km, CO2 154g/km