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When I first drove the latest generation Astra late last year, I personally found that it has everything to challenge the well-established Volkswagen Golf except in the area of engine specifications and hence straightline performance. With just 115bhp of naturally aspirated power and 155Nm of torque from the 1.6-litre lump shared with the Chevy Cruze to shift the Astra's 1373kg, straightline performance was appalling to say the least, especially when compared to turbocharged rivals like the Golf and Peugeot 308 - the Astra 1.6 will accelerate to 100km/h from rest in a yawning 13.3 seconds, which makes it even more noticeably slower than the base 105bhp 1.2 TSI Golf, let alone the 1.4 TSI.
Opel then, needed to introduce an Astra with a more modern, turbocharged engine to be on a level playing field in the Golf class. It did just that, six months after the launch of the 1.6 model. Opel has launched not one but two new turbocharged Astra models - the 1.4 turbo and the 1.6 turbo. With 140 horses and 180 horses respectively from the two new variants, it seems that the Astra finally has what it takes to see off its competitors. The 1.4 turbo can now compete with the 122bhp Golf TSI while the 1.6 turbo will be a direct competitor to the 160bhp Golf Sport.
On the outside, the Astra embodies Opel's latest design language that was first seen on the larger Insignia. The previous generation model's sharp edgy lines are replaced by more rounded and organic forms on the new model. At 4419mm in length and 1814mm wide, the Astra is a noticeably more sizable car than the 4199mm long and 1786mm wide Golf.
Notable styling features include the thrusting nose, steeply raked windscreen and curvaceous roofline. When viewed from the rear though, the Astra's rump can look a tad heavy thanks to its rounded rump. The small-ish alloy wheels, less generously sized than the ones on the 1.6 turbo, don't help to make the Astra's rear look more purposeful than it ought to be.
The turbocharged models can be differentiated from their lesser 1.6 sibling by their larger alloy wheels, 17-inch for the 1.4 turbo, 18s for the 1.6 turbo as well as the ‘Turbo' badge on the boot lid. The 1.6 Turbo can also be further distinguished by LED daytime running lights on the lenses of the bi-Xenon headlamps.
|May 13 Round 1||62,999|
|Apr 13 Round 2||62,497|
|Apr 13 Round 1||61,029|
|Mar 13 Round 2||64,209|
|View all COE prices|