There is no doubt that the Opel Astra has been one of the best compact hatchback that South Africans loved, it had all the great components that made it a very great car to drive. And that greatness has not been lost with the 2017 Opel Astra. To prove that it has been been named the South African Car of the Year in 2017 by Wesbank. I have chosen to review the Opel Astra 1.6 T because I for one think it has the best engine in it’s range.

It’s also the top of the range model but there is a higher spec which is the 1.6 T Plus, this one has some extras including the IntelliLux LED Matrix light lights. But don’t let that intimidate you because even the 1.6 T is well equipped. Now first things first the engine, it is a 1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. It is the ideal engine in it’s range because it packs an impressive 147 kW in power and 280 Nm of torque. A very good engine which can take it from 0-100 km/h in just 7.0 seconds. This is really fast and very impressive but one thing that staggers me it’s the way it rides. The fuel economy is 6.1 L/100 km combined.

That six-speed manual transmission adds on to the excellent driving experience because it shift like.. I can’t really explain it but I will try. It shifts like a soft plump marshmallow. I don’t know if you get the idea! No matter how low the revs are, you get that instant nice shift. Try this if you can: put the car in sport mode, foot hard on the clutch, get the maximum revs then release the clutch, you are in for a suprise but do please excute this only on closed circuits.

Coming to what caught my attention is the exterior styling which the first thing you will notice is the revised front grille and bumper and the newly designed headlamps with standard LED daytime running lights and fog lights. There are the 19 inch alloy rims which look very splendid and sporty. The shape of the car is a coupe-like shape with it’s sloping roofline at the rear. You also notice the rear tailgate lights tinted in black and the tip of the exhaust pipes have a chrome finish.

When you step inside of the Opel Astra 1.6 T, at first glance you notice the 7 inch Intellink touchscreen with USB/Aux and Bluetooth connectivity. It has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay fuctionality. When you connect your mobile device via Bluetooth, the display shows all your contacts and a dialpad appears on the screen which makes it easier for you to dial and call people without the use of your mobile phone. The system is easy to use and very efficient. The one I have tested does not have satellite navigation but you can still have it as an option.

There is air condition with climate control, leather upholstery seats, heated front and rear seats, adjustable electric seats, a heated and multi-fuction steering wheel with cruise control. You can atleast see out the rear window but not that much due to the sloping roofline. There are electric power folding mirrors. The car is standard with keyless entry which makes it very smart and it has a push start/stop engine button. 

There are safety driver features that come with the Astra 1.6 T which is side blindspot assist, hands-free parking assist, collision alert, traffic sign recognition, sensor following distance control and many more.Opel has really thought about the drivers. Keep them safe and comfortable. It feels comfortable when you are at the wheel of this excellent car. It’s poised, comfortable steering movement comes with many sort of experiences. Trust me when I say this is a great car to drive and very much likeable indeed.

There are a bit of flaws though with the Opel Astra. For instance the headroom at the rear is not enough which means your tall buddies will have difficulty sitting at the rear. Plus I think that the rear seats are a bit hard, not quite sure I was comfortable sitting on the rear seats. But elsewhere with the Astra 1.6 T everything is good. The passangers at the back get not one but two USB charging port for their phones. Very nice but my favorite thing on the inside is the speakers. It has 6 speakers which sound very nice and very good.

Now comparing the Opel with it’s competitors such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Renault, I’d say that the Opel is much quicker and well equipped but the Ford might have a hunch on the part of equipment. The colour to go for is glossy red because it just looks so great. I have my fingers crossed that if Opel is planning a new Astra OPC, it should be a four door rather than a two doors because obviously look how good looking this Astra is.

The Opel Astra 1.6 T is priced at R387 000 a small price to pay for excellence. I’d definitely recommend the Opel Astra 1.6 T to any buyer beacause it is just a great car to buy.

GCR rating: 9/10… great hatchback and the 1.6 T is the best engine ever!