Opel’s Astra-nomical Turbo is a gem….eventually.

Astra profileCall it a long term love affair that took time to blossom….review cars are supplied, as a rule, for a week however due to the Christmas and New Year’s break from 2012 to 2013 Opel was able to leave their red five door Astra Sport hatch with me for two weeks. Initial impressions were: hmmm, she’s cute, shapely body, bet she goes well, what’s she like on the inside? Sweet, hugging me but wow, the face is a bit….messy. Ah well…..she’s nice enough, let’s see what happens.

Two weeks later, we split….even though I was in love.

The interior of this beauty is snug, comfortable, with figure hugging leather seats. Astra interiorShe gave me soft red lighting for the door handle (at night), a smart piece of design incorporating both forequarter windows and defrost vents. Her inside face, in front of the driver, has two beautiful, classic look dials in the binnacle for speed and rev counter, two smaller ones for the fuel and temperature plus there’s a sweeping crash pad. Her nose (aka the centre dash console)……initially, her buttons were hard to find to push them, complicated for no real good reason. She needed a separate touch for temperature, separate pushes for fan flow and direction, while her radio controls are lost. It took some time to feel that the layout, although fussy, was usable; however compared to say, Mitsubishi’s Lancer, with simplicity itself for their aircon controls, they’re unnecessarily complicated. Above that she has a colourful, classy looking Dashscreen for the radio/satnav; again the German penchant for overdoing simplicity made using it problematic until familiarity grew. Having said that, even following the manual I couldn’t access the satnav screen as it asked me to press ok. I couldn’t find the right button to get her to show me the way, even with her centrally mounted joystick toggle. The voice from her multiple speakers, however, caressed my ears, with depth and clarity seldom heard from a car. Thankfully, she could multitask, taking phone calls on the run via Bluetooth and I could make her louder or quieter at the touch of her steering wheel mounted buttons.

She came with three personalities; I loved her sporty, fired up nature; liked her normal, every day pace and was somewhat meh about her tourist attitude. When I pressed her Sport button, she reacted instantly, revving herself harder, sharpening her response to my touch when I asked her to go that way….and when she changed her gear, it was quick! Six of them too, automatically, although sometimes she liked my help in the change, feeling as if we’d double clutched going up and down, as we went through the numbers, with a definitive “click” as we went from Drive to Park.

When her go pedal was given a prod while she was in a Sporting frame of mind, her heartbeat rapidly increased as she leapt ahead, showing her composed, even handling and her indifference to life’s little bumps with her eighteen inches of alloy wrapped in skintight rubber working hand in hand with her adaptive suspension. The big ones though….she didn’t like. When she relaxed, even in her Touring mode, she responded with no real urgency, saying she really didn’t want to….but would if she really had to.

Astra frontShe wore a red suit, a svelte and curve showing colour, highlighting her intense night time gaze, piercing the night whilst her eyebrows wore a lovely shade of LED. Her shapely rear hid room Astra rearfor more shopping whilst allowing access to her back seat skiported charms whilst her smiling front hid her 1.6 litre turboed heartbeat, sipping petrol like her manual sister whilst another sister drank the oil. She’s a powerful wench, her little heart spinning out 132 thousand James Watts whilst she reached for the sky 5500 times a minute. She didn’t mind doing the twist either, torquing 230 metres of Newton while she was at it 2200 times a minute. I also loved her sobriety, with her favourite unleaded tipple being drunk at around 7.5 litres every one hundred kilometres. Finally, I adored her spendthrift ways, starting from just under thirty thousand well spent dollars.

I grew to love Astra; her responsiveness when she was sporty, her comfortable leather clothing that came with central heating, I even got over not finding her OK button when I wanted to tell her where to go. I really loved her quality voice,Astra engine which would boom when required and was as clear as glass too. And although it was a brief Christmas and summer romance, I can always go here: http://www.opel-australia.com.au/vehicles/opel-range/cars/astra-range/index.html to remind myself of her.

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