Seán Creedon took a trip down memory lane in the latest Opel Astra GTC, an almost unrecognisable variant of the car he drove in the early 1990s…
Around 16 years ago I bought a second-hand red Opel Astra. There were a lot of Astras around at the time, and it served me well. Later I gave the car to my son, who had just passed his driving test, and he got a few more years out of it.
I was reminded of the reliability of that old car last week when I picked up an attractive new red Opel Astra GTC. However, the only thing the cars had in common was their logo and red paintwork.
The new Astra GTC is a sporty model and, naturally, a two-door. By now, my family is becoming accustomed to two-door cars… although that doesn’t mean that they are beginning to like them.
I thought the car was of sufficient length for an extra pair of doors. Opel would have made at least one family very happy if they had taken this option, perhaps keeping the handles discreet, as Alfa or Citroen have done.
The Astra has changed a lot in recent years, and if you were returning to Europe after a lengthy break elsewhere in the world, you would hardly recognise the new model from the trusty car that was so popular on the continent in the early 1990s. Opel was on a high back then, in the days when it sponsored the Irish soccer team.
The contemporary Astra now resembles the Opel Insignia, and indeed, had already adopted the coupé look before the ‘performance’ GTC elements were added. The front headlamps are very attractive, and inside there is room for four people, and if required, there might be just enough room to enable a third small adult to squeeze in.
For the second week in succession, my regular passenger and I enjoyed the heated front seats, as April is still quite chilly for leather seats in Ireland.
On the dash, all controls are grouped together in a neat console, with an abundance of slave controls on the sporty-looking steering wheel. The boot is a decent size for a sporty hatchback.
While the car is certainly attractive, I thought the alloys could have been better—I have seen fancier ones on the other cars I have driven recently.
I have two further small gripes. Firstly, the bright sat-nav display could have done with adjustment controls for night-time driving, when it might prove a distraction. And secondly, while the new style handbrake currently in vogue works fine, with an activation display on the dash, I would have preferred a traditional handbrake.