The Opel Astra is a compact car produced by the German automaker Opel since 1991. It is Opel’s counterpart to the Volkswagen Golf and has been available as a 3/5-door hatchback, 4-door saloon, 5-door station wagon, as well as a 2/3 door convertible. Over the years, the Astra has been branded as the Vauxhall Astra in the United Kingdom and the Buick Excelle XT in China.
The Astra has gone through five generations since its introduction, with each generation bringing improved technology, designs, and safety features. The original Astra (1991-1998) was available in 3 and 5-door hatchback models and helped establish the car’s reputation for practicality and reliability. Subsequent generations introduced popular features like the panoramic windscreen, BiTurbo diesel engine, and Opel Eye front camera system.
Today, the Astra continues to be an important model for Opel, competing against the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, and other small family cars. It is praised for its handling, fuel-efficiency, and technology. The latest generation Astra has been introduced for the 2016 model year, bringing refreshed exterior styling and new infotainment features.
First Generation (1991-1998)
The Opel Astra first generation hatchback was launched in 1991 and sold until 1998. It was offered in 3 and 5-door hatchback body styles and powered by a range of gasoline engines, including:
- 1.4L 60hp inline-4
- 1.6L 75hp inline-4 (introduced in 1991)
- 1.8L 125hp inline-4 (introduced in 1993)
Key features of the first generation Astra included:
- Front-wheel drive
- 5-speed manual transmission
- Revised front and rear suspension for improved handling
- Driver’s airbag introduced in 1993
- Available anti-lock brakes (ABS)
- Power windows and central locking on higher trims
The first generation Astra replaced the previous Opel Kadett model and was notable for its aerodynamic design and range of engine options. Over 2.6 million units were produced during its seven year production run.
Second Generation (1998-2004)
The second generation Opel Astra, known as the Astra G, debuted in 1998 and was produced until 2004.
In 2001, the Astra G received a facelift that included revised front and rear bumpers, new wheel designs, and interior upgrades like new fabrics and chrome accents (Opel Astra 1998 Hatchback).
New engine options were introduced with the facelift, including a 2.0L MPI producing 136 hp and a 1.6L generating 103 hp (Review: Opel Astra G ( 1998 – 2009 )).
Safety upgrades were also part of the facelift, with the addition of side airbags and new seatbelt pre-tensioners. The Astra G achieved a 4-star safety rating from Euro NCAP crash tests.
Third Generation (2004-2010)
The third-generation Opel Astra H debuted in 2004 on an all-new platform and represented a complete redesign of the model. The hatchback and station wagon variants shared the same platform and overall design, but had distinct styling differences.
The third generation Astra was based on General Motors’ Delta platform, which allowed for increased cabin space and improved handling compared to the previous generation. Models were available with an array of gasoline and diesel engine options, including 1.4L, 1.6L, 1.8L, and 2.0L variants.
Two different design languages were used for the hatchback and station wagon models. The hatchback had a sportier, wedge-shaped profile with a steeply raked windshield. The station wagon had a more upright profile and distinctive rear styling. Both offered similar interior space and cargo capacity.
Notable features of the third generation included available panoramic sunroofs, integrated FlexFix bike racks on station wagon models, and the adaptive IDS Plus chassis system which adjusted shock absorber firmness.
Safety was also improved with standard systems like traction control and electronic stability control. Higher trim versions could be equipped with additional advanced driver assistance tech like lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
The third generation Astra was produced until 2009 for the hatchback and 2010 for the station wagon. It marked a major leap forward in technology, styling and refinement for the Opel Astra range.
Fourth Generation (2010-2015)
The fourth generation Astra was launched in 2010 and manufactured until 2015. This generation featured a major redesign and was lighter weight than previous models. According to Fuelly, real world fuel economy for the 2010 Opel Astra 1.6L engine averaged around 29 mpg.
The emphasis on weight reduction and efficiency improvements resulted in notable gains in fuel economy compared to earlier generations. Opel redesigned the body using higher strength steel to shed over 200 lbs from the curb weight while maintaining rigidity. The base 1.4L engine offered improved fuel efficiency of over 40 mpg highway. New EcoFLEX variants with start/stop technology and other efficiency measures achieved even lower emissions and fuel consumption.
Reviewers praised the vastly improved interior comfort and refinement of the 2010 Astra. The cabin offered a quieter ride and premium feel that approached more expensive vehicles, as noted in this 2010 Opel Astra Review. The lighter chassis and enhancements in noise isolation created a relaxed, comfortable environment on the road.
Fifth Generation (2015-Present)
The current fifth generation Opel Astra launched in 2015 and represents a dramatic shift towards a more premium design and features.
The exterior features a sloped fastback-like roofline and sharp lines for a sportier look. Opel aimed for a more premium interior as well, with higher quality materials and the latest technology. The new Astra introduced Opel’s OnStar system with 24/7 emergency calling, wi-fi hotspot, and smartphone app integration (Source).
Under the hood, the Astra offers fuel efficient petrol and diesel engines. Performance options include a 1.6L turbocharged engine producing up to 207 hp. Reviews praise the Astra’s sharp handling and smooth ride quality. According to Carzone, “The car has plenty of grip through corners, the steering talks directly to the front wheels and the gearshift is one of the slickest in its class” (Source).
The current Astra shows Opel matching and even exceeding premium brands when it comes to technology, efficiency, performance and style.
The Opel Astra hatchback has gone through multiple generations over the years, with updated dimensions, engine options, and fuel economy.
The first generation Astra (1991-1998) had dimensions of 4,060 mm length, 1,720 mm width, and 1,400 mm height for the 3-door model. The 5-door was slightly larger at 4,250 mm length and 1,410 mm height (source).
The current fifth generation Astra (2015-present) measures 4,370 mm long, 1,860 mm wide, and 1,485 mm tall for the 5-door hatchback model (source).
Earlier Astra models came with a range of gas and diesel engine options in various states of tune. More recent generations offer downsized turbocharged gas engines for improved efficiency.
Current Astra models are available with gas engines ranging from 1.2L to 1.6L displacement and power outputs between 110 to 200 hp. Diesels range from 1.6L to 2.0L displacement and 95 to 174 hp (source).
Fuel economy has improved over the generations as engines became more efficient. Earlier models with larger displacements had combined mileage around 30-35 mpg.
Today’s Astras with the latest turbocharged gas engines can achieve 40+ mpg combined. The 1.6L diesel can return up to 67 mpg on the combined cycle (source).
The Opel Astra has earned high safety ratings from organizations like Euro NCAP and ANCAP. The current 2021 Astra has received a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating, the highest possible score.
Standard safety features on the Astra include autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, rear parking sensors, and auto high beams (https://www.euroncap.com/en/results/opel%2Fvauxhall/astra/45874).
Available advanced driver assistance technology includes adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed assist, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert (https://www.ancap.com.au/safety-ratings/opel/astra/7da778).
Opel’s newer Astra models also come equipped with up to six airbags, giving occupants protection in the event of a collision. Seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters are also included.
Awards & Reviews
The Opel Astra hatchback has earned strong praise from critics and received numerous awards since its first generation debuted in 1991. The latest Astra models continue to impress reviewers and earn recognition.
In 2023, the newest Opel Astra won the prestigious Red Dot Award for Product Design, selected by a panel of 43 international experts (Source). This award highlighted the Astra’s flowing sculpted body lines and harmonious proportions.
The current generation Opel Astra also won the 2022 Golden Steering Wheel in the compact class, praised for its dynamic yet comfortable driving experience, modern cabin, and range of powertrains (petrol, diesel, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid). The expert jury said the Astra set a new standard in its segment.
Reviewers consistently praise the Astra’s handling agility, refined ride quality, fuel-efficient and responsive engines, spacious interior, intuitive infotainment system, and availability of advanced driver assistance features. While reviewers note the Astra hatchback faces stiff competition in the compact segment, it remains a standout for its blend of style, comfort, driving enjoyment and safety.
Pricing & Availability
The Opel Astra hatchback is available in a range of trim levels, each with different pricing and feature levels. Here is an overview of trim levels and pricing:
In Australia, the Opel Astra hatchback starts at around $22,000 AUD for the base model Essential trim. Higher trims include the Elegance, GS Line, and Ultimate:
- Essential – starts at $22,000 AUD
- Elegance – starts at $26,000 AUD
- GS Line – starts at $28,000 AUD
- Ultimate – starts at $33,000 AUD
The Astra hatchback is available at Opel dealerships across Australia.
In Europe, the entry-level Astra 5-door hatchback starts at around €22,465 in Germany. Higher trims add additional features and options.
The Astra is available across Opel dealers in Europe, including Germany, UK, France, and other markets.