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The Warsaw Voice » Society » May 14, 2008
Auto: Opel Astra 1.8i
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Honey, I Shrunk the Vectra
May 14, 2008 By Bartosz Grzybiński   
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Compact sedans increasingly look like mid-range cars these days. With their appearance and size, they often resemble larger models-which explains why my Opel Astra was mistaken for a Vectra during the test-drive several times.

Due to stiff competition, automakers are constantly upgrading the functionality and comfort of cars in the lower cost segments. This explains why classic compact cars such as the Volkswagen Golf have recently been provided with trunks, which makes them more practical and thus more appealing to customers. Today the VW Jetta is very much like the Passat, especially as it is fitted with the same type of engine and interior features. The same goes for Opel: the Astra sedan looks a lot like the producer's larger model, the Vectra.

The Astra's body is well designed, which is especially true of the grille and headlights. Overall, the car is elegant and forms a harmonious whole. I found the back of the car a bit too massive, though on the whole the Astra looks quite light for its size of 4,587 mm in length, 1,458 mm in height, and 1,753 mm in width.

The 2,703 mm wheelbase ensures a spacious interior. Both the front and the back seats provide ample room for five people to travel in comfort. The luggage compartment is a generous 490 liters. The trunk is conveniently shaped, though it is somewhat cumbersome that you have to open it with a key or a button on the dashboard. I suppose a classic trunk lock would be far more practical in terms of everyday use.

The dashboard is foolproof, except for the turn signal lever, which seems to be too sensitive. The thick steering wheel and comfortable seats are likely to appeal to most drivers. I also found the quality of the finish impressive.

The test-drive unit was fitted with a 1.8l/140hp gasoline engine. Despite the car's weight of 1,306 kg, the engine is powerful enough to accelerate the Astra from standstill to 100 kph in just over 10 seconds, with a top speed of 207 kph. However, it is too sluggish at low speeds. But its strengths include a low noise level and fuel economy despite the car's weight and size. During the test-drive fuel consumption was 8.8 liters/100 km on average.

The Astra in the well-equipped Cosmo version costs zl.88,500, which is just a bit a more than the entry-level Vectra... It's up to the customer to decide which product is more appealing to them. As always, it's a matter of individual taste and preference.
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