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Opel Astra, VW Golf and Audi A3 - 99 gram compacts in the test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Opel Astra, VW Golf and Audi A3 in comparison test
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Economical models are traditionally very popular with the heads of the Volkswagen Group. The lavish three-liter cars were VW Lupo and Audi A 2 not nearly as successful as the previous one VW boss Ferdinand Piƫch in asserting his interests in the respective development departments, but the need to save money has passed into the technicians' flesh and blood. Today the VW magic formula is called Blue Motion - behind it are particularly frugal models of individual series that are trimmed for high efficiency.

VW Golf: 3.8 liters /100 km and 99 grams of CO2 emissions

The three-liter car sends its regards. In the compact car class, Volkswagen is sending the VW Golf Blue Motion in the running for the favor of the bargain hunters. Aerodynamic and technical tricks such as roof spoiler, reduced air flow through the engine compartment, lowering of the body, long geared gears, automatic start-stop, energy recovery and tires with optimized rolling resistance as well as the 1.6-liter turbo-diesel trimmed for low friction and throttle losses help this VW Golf to a standard consumption of only 3.8 liters /100 km and CO2 emissions of 99 grams per kilometer. VW subsidiary Audi does not want to stand back. It co-launches the Audi A3 1.6 TDI identical drive unit and comparable fuel-saving technology, but dispenses with any memorable reference in the model name.

The Opel Astra relies on its 1.7-liter turbodiesel

As a two-door model, the Audi A3 also emits 99 grams of CO2, but the four-door Sportback variant misses the prestigious 100 gram mark by just under two percent. The youngest in the trio completely dispenses with effective budget tricks. The new Opel Astra ( the Opel Astra in the top test ) relies entirely on the qualities of its 1.7-liter turbo diesel, which emits 124 grams of CO2 /km, but with 110 PS and 260 Newton meters promises nominally minor performance advantages. Saving while driving, as VW and Audi suggest, sounds very tempting.

The TDI with common rail direct injection can hardly be heard

But the opposite variant is also convincing - drive while saving? Yes, and surprisingly impressive. This is primarily due to the 105 PS strong TDI with common rail direct injection, which is appealing from 2,000 tours, hangs on the gas and shows no fear of high revs. Best of all, you can hardly hear it. Anyone who changes from an older VW with a pump-nozzle diesel will not believe their ears. Annoying vibrations, rough running, intrusive acoustics - no trace of it. In the VW Golf, elaborate insulation measures almost completely suppress the engine noise when the motorway is moving at high speeds. In the Audi A3, the machine is not quite as cautious, but it still provides a good example of great smoothness. In addition, the automatic start-stop system that can be switched off works perfectly.

Audi A3 and VW Golf do not get sixth gear

Nevertheless, compromises have to be made: The Pronounced starting weakness requires a courageous use of the accelerator pedal when starting, long geared stages of the five-speed transmission result in an inharmonious gradation. Smallest attempts to accelerate in the long fifth force you to switch back. One misses a narrower spread of gears and a sixth gear. That would have a raison d'etre because it would further reduce consumption in practice. In the ECE driving cycle, which determines the standard consumption, however, it does not lead to any further reduction in consumption, which is why VW and Audi simply save the additional costs of a few euros. A shame.

The Opel Astra comes out as a heavyweight

The Opel Astra has six gears, which have a much shorter gear ratio than the competition , but with that the advantages of its drive unit are already exhausted. Because the diesel engine is disappointing: it is weak and tough, reacts sluggishly to the gas and turns reluctantly. The fact that the Astra comes out as a heavyweight at 1,550 kilograms - it weighs 223 kilograms more than the VW Golf - makes life difficult for the engine. But not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of engine running culture, the Opel Astra can't hold a candle to the competition due to strong vibrations, mechanical roughness and its background noise. Even inIt lags behind in consumption, which is not surprising in view of the engine characteristics and the high vehicle weight.

The Opel Astra achieved top scores in the slalom and moose test disciplines

With a test average of seven liters /100 km, it consumed around one liter more than his opponents from the VW camp. They cut very closely together in this discipline and are even able to break through the five-liter mark at a restrained pace. In terms of driving characteristics, the trio moves with excellent active driving safety, agile handling, stable straight-line stability and good traction at a high level. With the exception of its turning circle of 11.8 meters, the Opel does not show any nakedness either, in fact it even achieved top marks in the slalom and moose test disciplines. In terms of suspension comfort, the Astra also has the edge. Its suspension responds sensitively and impresses on all types of bumps with a good balance, to which the long wheelbase makes a significant contribution. You can do without the FlexRide system with electronic damper control, which costs 930 euros, just as confidently as you can do without the sports suspension in the VW Golf, which the Blue Motion comes with as standard and which has a lasting effect on the normally harmonious suspension tuning of the VW.

The Opel Astra has to admit defeat

Although the Opel Astra is 4.42 meters longer than the VW Golf by an impressive 22 centimeters, it cannot benefit from it . On the contrary: the amount of space and the feeling of spaciousness are disappointing; the rear is noticeably narrower than in the Volkswagen. In addition, the Opel has some functional weaknesses such as the restricted clarity due to the wide pillars, the shift levers and window switches that are too far back, sometimes tiny buttons in the center console and the step-like seat back adjustment using an impractical lever. It does not stand for progressive space economy or even innovative ergonomics. So the fate of the new Opel Astra takes its course: It has to admit defeat to the two-door, now six-year-old and 2,100 euros more expensive Audi A3 in the property and overall rating. And who wins? Well, who's - the VW Golf.

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