1st March 2016

The Opel/Vauxhall Astra, branded by the Jury as good value for money, is the Car of the Year 2016, as announced in Geneva Palexpo. The Opel brand name is awarded a CotY prize for the fifth time. The Astra received 309 points and 24 top marks from the jurors. There was a tight race with Volvo XC90, 294 points and 11 individual wins, while Mazda MX5 was a distant third, with 202 points and 13 top marks.

GM’s best asset in European market, the Opel/Vauxhall Astra has been entirely redefined to match or surpass its main competitors in functionality, performance, efficiency and appeal. More compact and at the same time roomier, the 5-door family hatchback sits on a new D2XX platform engineered by Opel in Germany to gain simplicity and lightness. The new car may be up to 200 kg lighter depending on versions, an overdue shift in the Astra -and other models of the Opel/Vauxhall range- that Jury members gladly salute. With a slightly shorter wheelbase and 5 cm less of overall length, the Astra offers more space than before and a more appealing cabin. The Sports Tourer body style, with a sizeable additional length of 33 cm, will drastically improve the cargo capacity.

Powertrain range is more than adequate, with the sparing direct-injection 1.0 Turbo 3-cylinder, which can be combined with a long-legged manual or automated 5-gear box, as the reasonable basic option in the petrol engine line. The new and flexible 1.4 Turbo TDI, now with light-alloy crankcase, is offered in 125 and 150 hp versions, the latter optionally equipped with a low-friction 6-gear automatic transmission with hydraulic converter.Until a high-performance OPC version will appear in the future, the top petrol choice is a lively 1.6 Turbo with 200 hp. As for the efficient diesel engine offer, the ubiquitous 1.6 CDTI unfolds in four power levels, from the entry 95 hp version till the sporty 160 hp twin-turbo. The 6-gear automatic transmission is also available in the 136 hp CDTI.

In the chassis department, Opel spares the adaptive damping or an optional sport setting and suitably tunes the suspension to each performance level and wheel size. In the rear beam axle, the helpful Watt’s linkage is reserved to the top versions. The overall result is a dynamic stance and moderate body roll, keeping a good ride quality.

The previous Astra was already full of equipment and gadgetry, standard or optional, such as traffic signs recognition or lane keep assist; and the new one extends the possibilities, with autonomous emergency braking. The OnStar system with on-board access to the Internet is offered with a no-charge service for the first year; and the Intellilink device completes the infotainment equipment. Two firsts of refinement in the segment, with the matrix LEDs headlights and the optional ergonomic front seats with ventilation and massaging functions. The good news is that options, as the standard Astra versions, are very reasonably priced.

The New Vauxhall Astra from £15,295 is available from your local Underwoods Vauxhall Showrooms in Colchester, Clacton & Tiptree in Essex or Sudbury in Suffolk.