Johannesburg - Opel has just made its 1.6-litre turbocharged Astra flagship a whole lot more desirable with the fitment of a six-speed automatic gearbox as well as OPC-Line interior and exterior styling packs.

The 1.6T Sport model was previously only fitted with a manual gearbox, which is fast losing favour at this end of the market.

The Euro exchange rate is not doing this car any favours however, with the new auto model retailing at R508 000, which is a R35 000 premium over the previous manual model.

But for that money (bearing in mind that an extra R60 000 gets you a Golf GTI) you do get a pretty warm-performing hatchback, powered by Opel’s 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that’s credited with 147kW at 5500rpm and 280Nm from 1650rpm. According to claims the 1.6T Sport auto will screech from 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 235km/h.

Exterior features include 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 rubber and LED Matrix Lighting System, while the cabin gets a 20.3cm IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, a heated leather steering wheel, alloy pedals, Advanced Park Assist, cruise control, climate control and Side Blind-Zone Alert, among others. A sunroof is optional.

The Astra hatchback range has been rationalised recently but, still includes an entry-level 1.0T manual model for R301 049, a 1.0T Enjoy manual, at R329 409, and a 1.4T enjoy auto, yours for R391 589.

The Astra 1.6T is sold with a three-year/120 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan.

IOL Motoring