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2015 Opel Astra: We Sit in Opel's New Hatchback, First Contact Suggests Notable Improvements
In Europe, the C-segment is one of the most contested niches. Here, we encounter a multi-front battle fought between carmakers like Volkswagen, Renault, Ford and Opel, among others.

2015 Opel Astra: We Sit in Opel's New Hatchback, First Contact Suggests Notable Improvements

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As you already imagined, this is also the stage where cars like the Golf, Focus, Megane and the Astra are given the chance to shine. This material, however, is all about the latter, and how is Opel trying to turn the odds in their favor with the new Astra.History
The road for the modern Opel Astra as we know it was paved by the Kadett, and it's this duo that managed to sell in over 24 million units for Opel up until this point. So it's really a no-brainer that the Astra is the Russelsheim-based manufacturer's bread and butter.

The Astra saga started in 1991, with the Astra F, a car built in no less than 4,13 million units until 1997 - yes, that's a six-year timeframe we're looking at here. It also became Opel's bestseller and retained that title until the present day, when the carmaker has the 2015 Astra ready to compete in the European compact car arena.

But we didn't bring you here just for the Opel Astra history 101 seminar. We already compiled a visual guide of the Opel Astra through the years, in case you are keen on knowing more about the model's legacy.

That being said, let's cut to the chase and turn our heads towards the new Astra and what aces the hatchback holds under its sleeve.

The first thing Opel engineers did was to put the Astra on a diet, which seemed to have worked, as the new car is 120 to 200 kg (264 - 441 lbs) lighter (depending on model and trim level) when compared to the model it replaces. Since we touched this point, we'll also mention the bodywork alone dropped 20 percent of its weight, going from 357 to 280 kilograms (617 lbs).Fresh-looking exterior
We got the opportunity to spend some time with the new 2015 Opel Astra, but driving the thing was not on the menu. However, we were able to enter an examine the car's interior, as well as provide a batch of pictures with the hatchback's cabin and outer shell, so let's find out what changed with the arrival of the new Astra.

First things first, so allow us to drop a few words on the exterior, without insisting too much on this aspect. At a first glance, the new Astra's proposal in terms of exterior styling cues has a lot to do with sharper edges, kind of what the new Corsa has to offer, but translated into a larger body.

At a second glance, you'll see how the car took some features from the sleek Monza concept but those striking lines have been heavily toned down. On a personal note, I think the new Astra is better looking than the Golf or the Megane, and on the same par with the Focus. Plus, the car allows you to spot a personality behind that metal sheet, but again, I'm on the subjective side right now.The cabin is where the changes count
While the exterior is not the place where you should look for significant changes, we found the cabin the most improved area in the new Astra. Again, without being able to take the car for a spin, but that should happen soon.

The thing is, once you step inside, you still get the feeling that you're in an Opel Astra, especially for those familiar with the car. However, the materials look and feel better than what the previous model had to offer, and Opel also switched to piano black for the dashboard in a generous amount, I could add.

The steering wheel adopts a more sporty pattern, which makes you want to grab it and drive away, but we can't comment on the car's dynamic capabilities just yet.

I found the AGR-certified seats in the new Astra very comfortable and well-designed, and this comes from a guy with mild to "respectable" back problems. But that's one of Opel's strongest points I appreciated in the Insignia sedan and Mokka crossover.

Furthermore, the dashboard was simplified, and that's one of the best things Opel could do to the interior. We're sure there's no need to remind you of the ultra-crowded center panel in the previous generation, often confusing even for long-time owners.

Every button you need to use is stacked under the 8-inch IntelliLink R 4.0 media system display. The gizmo is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but at the same time the touchscreen display is correctly positioned on top of the center console, where you can look at it without taking your eyes off what's happening around you for too many seconds.

I would have preferred the USB port being placed somewhere on the dashboard and not inside the armrest, which isn't the most convenient place for that, in my view.

Coming back to the infotainment system, the graphics look good, and there's no lag. At least I didn't run into such glitches while browsing the menus and the navigation screen. The instrument panel is also revised, and the dull bi-color digital display found between the speedometer, and the rev counter was replaced with a color-screen, similar to the one available in the facelifted Insignia.

Opel says the new 2015 Opel Astra K is 4.37 meters long (around 5 cm shorter than its predecessor), but that's not the impression you get from the inside. I sat in the backseat, and I found out that there's plenty of space for the head and the knees, despite the fact that the car's wheelbase is two centimeters shorter. And that comes from a 1.8-meter (5"11') tall guy.

However, three adults won't sit in comfortable conditions on the rear seat, but once their number is cut down to two, things change for the better.

To sum up, the new Astra looks and feels like it did a couple of steps forward from the previous generation, which is applaudable. Whether it is a genuine new car, well, that verdict will come after we see how it handles in real life conditions on the road, around and outside the city. In the meantime, we expect the race for supremacy in the segment to become hotter once Renault reveals the new Megane next month, at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

 
 
 
 
 

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