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Driving report Opel Astra (2015): This is how the fifth generation drives

Jonas Greiner
Driving report Opel Astra K (2015)
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A everything is getting bigger. Smartphone displays, requirements for young professionals and often cars too. Not so the latest Opel Astra. The compact model shrinks by five centimeters in length and two centimeters in height. The Rüsselsheim resident has also worked off his belly fat and has become at least 140 kilos lighter, depending on the model. Completely new engines are on top. So get on the (well-trained) bacon and off to the test drive.

As soon as you get in, you like the new with its airy feeling of space. Despite the minus in length and height, all passengers have comfortable space, both in the front and in the back. When it came to the interior design, the Rüsselsheim-based company went a step further: the cockpit looks and feels good - the quality of the materials has increased noticeably.

Opel Astra performs less than expected

Our test car was equipped with the new 1.4 liter four-cylinder turbo. This petrol engine has 150 hp - but it doesn't feel like it. The expectation that a lot of turbo power combined with weight savings could provide a fast driving experience has been disappointed. The Astra climbs a little hard from the speed cell. Only on country roads can it be chased through curves and over knolls. But that requires a lot of shift work with the manual six-speed gearbox. If you want to be sporty, you have to skip gears 5 and 6 up to 120 km /h.

Great: the front seats. The driver can adjust the incline of the seat to the tightness of the side bolsters, massage, ventilate or heat himself up. So you stay firmly in the saddle even on uneven roads and can let the potential sweat cool off. It is less relaxed in the rear. Not because there was a lack of space there, but because things are a bit bumpy - to improve the drag coefficient, the rear axle moved closer to the vehicle floor. Now there seems to be a little lack of suspension travel.

The chassis makes a message

Otherwise the chassis makes one very good job. Simple bumps are ironed out, the feeling for the road is not neglected. The asphalt is still allowed to send a bit of feedback through to the driver. The operation of the infotainment system is a clear step forward compared to its predecessor. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement. That the GPSFor example, hiding saved routes behind the 'Contacts' icon doesn't really make sense right away. In addition, there is no button below the display to switch directly to navigation. Only when you take a second look you notice that the touchscreen folds out from above as soon as you touch the screen.

Otherwise, the Astra is easy to operate. The switch arrangement is sensible and well placed, even newbies should quickly find their way around the cockpit of the new Opel Astra. The Onstar service system, which is celebrating its premiere in Germany with the new Astra, has three new buttons. They sit in front of the inside mirror on the roof and do not disturb the structure of the cockpit. The service could meet a real need among customers. At the push of a button, you can be connected to an Onstar employee, who can then load a route into your navigation system or report the condition of the vehicle if necessary. This works very well and straight away.

Opel Astra regulates the light cone

The highly praised Intellilux LED light is a real unique selling point in this class and an important part of Opel’s communication strategy . The technology knows how to impress on level slopes. You drive with permanent high beam, so to speak, the system fades out vehicles ahead and oncoming vehicles from the light cone. The result is a significantly improved view. Even Intellilux cannot do magic. On our first trips, the system's response time left something to be desired. And in curves and on hilltops, the technology reaches its physical limits and only recognizes other road users when their light cone hits the Intellilux sensor. But it feels too late. After all: The continuous regulation of the illumination can be switched off if necessary.

Speaking of visibility: When it comes to all-round visibility, the Astra leaves some competitors behind. There is a sufficiently large field of vision in all directions.

Conclusion:

The Opel Astra is the fifth generation a good car. The compact model from Rüsselsheim has its finger on the pulse of the times, both optically and technically. Workmanship and design make a very good impression. The feeling of space is probably one of the biggest pluses of the Astra, the 1.4 turbo gasoline engine less. Of course, it is completely sufficient for everyday use. Ambitious drivers should opt for the 1.6-liter with 200 hp or a presumably more powerful diesel engine - together with the other qualities, a promising combination in the compact class.

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