By: IOL Motoring Staff
The once-popular Opel brand has been looking rather neglected in recent years as GM's focus shifted towards Chevrolet, but now the German brand is going on a launch-frenzy with new derivatives of the Astra, Corsa and Meriva making their debut on local shores this week.
A highlight among these is the return of the Opel Astra sedan. Having skipped a generation, the new four-door is based on the latest Astra hatchback, and its curvaceous rear end adds 230mm in overall length and 90 litres of boot space - which now stands at 460 litres.
At the opposite end, the sedan inherits three petrol engines from the hatch, the most enticing of these being the 1.6-litre turbo unit that's mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Perhaps not quite in sports sedan territory, but certainly above ordinary, the motor pushes 132kW at 5500rpm and 230Nm at 2200rpm, for a claimed 8.7-second 0-100km/h sprint and 223km/h top end.
The 'middle mannetjie' is a 103kW/200Nm 1.4 turbo that can be mated to either a manual or automatic transmission, both with six forward ratios. The affordable engine option is a normally aspirated 1.6, credited with 85kW and 155Nm.
The latter, according to GM, will sip 6.6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle while the 1.4T returns 5.9 (manual) and 6.6 (auto) and the 1.6T drinks 6.8.
There is also some differentiation in terms of suspension. While all models feature a MacPherson strut front end, turbo versions boast Opel's Watt's link rear suspension and the normally aspirated 1.6 makes do with a more conventional compound crank design.
On the safety front the Astra boasts a five-star EuroNCAP rating and all models are kitted with ESP stability control, trailer sway control, active front head rests and six airbags.
The 1.6 and 1.4T models come in 'Essentia' trim, which includes 17-inch alloys, aircon, cruise control, a seven-speaker CD/USB/Aux audio system with Bluetooth functionality, multi-info trip computer and remote central locking. Meanwhile, the 1.6 Essentia hatchback has been upgraded to reflect the aforementioned spec level.
The 1.6T Cosmo sedan adds 18-inch rims to the equation, along with leather seats (heated up front), automatic headlights and wipers, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors.
IOL writer Dave Abrahams attended the Astra sedan's launch on Wednesday and was particularly impressed with its stability while thundering down the Outeniqua Pass.
Dave will also be driving two new versions of the Corsa - the OPC Nürburgring and 1.4T Enjoy - so look out for his impressions on these new hatchbacks on Friday.
OPEL ASTRA SEDAN - PRICES
1.6 Essentia - R239 900
1.4T Essentia - R250 900
1.4T Essentia AT - R261 800
1.6T Cosmo - R284 500
A five-year/120 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan are part of the deal.