You put your left foor in, you put your left foot out….that’s the story of Opel, returning to and leaving Australia very quickly in 2013 and 2014. However, they’d had a presence here before and with a somewhat coincidental timing, some might say, Holden had decided to close local manufacturing and look who was waiting to supply some metal…
With the return of Opel sourced machinery, it’s opened Holden up to a bigger array of different cars. A Wheel Thing tested the big mid sizer convertible, the Cascada, earlier in 2015 and spent some time with the three door entry from the Astra range, a well known nameplate here in Australia. In this case, it was the stylish GTC Sport, complete with six speed manual and a 1.6L turboed four potter.
It is a stylish beast in profile, with prominent haunches; massive five blade alloys at 19 inch diameter; a deep scallop to the doors, a high window line and a letter slot view rearwards for the driver thanks to a sloping rear window. Seen directly from the rear the GTC is somewhat bulbous whereas the nose is sharply defined and sports angular headlights. Overall length is 4466 mm and the Astra looks low slung, with a height of just 1482 mm.
Under the expansive bonnet is a 1.6L turboed four, with two power and torque outputs depending on whether you plump for the selfshifter or not. You’ll get either 147 or 125 kilowatts at 4750 to 6000 revs and either 280 or 260 torques from 1650 to 5000 revs with the manual or 4500 revs for the slushbox. The 56 litre tank says it much prefers to be filled with 98 RON Premium.
Consumption? Gentle driving in the latter part of the review saw the range up and down by a few kilometres but managed to eke out over five hundred klicks before a topoff to get it back to the dealership. Call it somewhere between seven and eight litres as a final average per one hundred. Holden quotes 6.9L (combined).
Transmission wise, the review car came with a decent six speed manual, with a good shifter. It’s a double H pattern, with the move from second to third sometimes finding the lever stuck in the gate when it was hurried. The clutch itself had some nice weight to it with a pickup point just where a driver expects it to engage. The steering was also nicely ratioed, allowing a quick turn in and providing a responsive conversation with the driver, plus having a short wheelbase (2695 mm) made it nimble in car parks, not just on the road.
The ride quality was of a varying nature; the GTC has 19 inch diameter, five spoke propellor style alloys and thin rubber, at 235/45…as a result there was jolting, a hard ride but, confusingly, had body roll and some odd moments where it seemed the suspension was a sponge and not hard. Having that short wheelbase also contributed to the choppy ride on somewhat rough surfaces yet it seemed as if the suspension had different spring rates throughout the springs themselves, such was the variation in ride.
On the open road, the GTC would pootle along nicely; like any small capacity engine with a turbo, it’ll struggle off boost, however once the needle has swung past 2000 and is well into the torque zone, there’s a firm shove in the back and some deft movements of leg and arm required. To haul it all in, the four channel ABS system is in residence, with a firm brake feel under normal driving circumstances.
The interior, thankfully, is due to be severely overhauled in the 2016 Astra range. The excess of buttons that has plagued Opel cars in recent years is to be discarded and refined down to a minimalist look. The 2015 model’s centre console is a mess, a result of having buttons for almost every conceivable function, including anachronistic dials for setting the temperature for the dual zones that aren’t integrated electronically.
The seats were wrap around and supportive, manual in adjustment, with faux leather material and heating. The cabin’s ambience is one of being slightly closed in, with the predominantly black colour scheme being broken only by the brushed alloy highlights on the tiller, console and air vent surrounds, plus a red light surrounding the bottom of the gear selector’s housing. The front seats also tilt and slide to allow access to the rear, of course, but there’s not a lot of leg room…
Cargo wise, there’s 380L of space behind the 60/40 split fold rear seats (with ski port), plus the usual plethora of bottle and cup holders in doors and console. For entertainment, the infotainment setup has DAB, Bluetooth connections plus the apps built in such as Pandora, accessible via the twist and push button below the seven inch screen. If you think you’ll be doing some towing,the Astra is rated to 1200 kg with a braked trailer. Naturally there’s side and curtain airbags, along with stability control and front & rear parking assist sensors.
It’s a mix of fun, good looks, a somewhat confused ride and a poky four, wrapped in a stylish and lithe body.With pictures of the forthcoming model circulating already, there’s plenty to look forward to but there’s plenty to enjoy now. If you can live with the overly buttoned console and the somewhat black upon black interior, and don’t need to consider constant entry and exit of others, the 2015 Astra GTC and GTC Sport (plus VXR) will suit you nicely.
Warranty wise, there’s Holden’s standard three year or 100,000 kilometre warranty with the option of a Holden backed extended warranty. You can also take advantage of Holden’s capped price servicing, secure in the knowledge this will cover both your Astra and your 48/215 (Holden’s capped price servicing.. For info and details on pricing your new Astra,go here: Holden Astra 2015 range