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The Opel hallmarks of mass-market appeal, ease of use and good value are all present and correct in the Astra. And while there are a number of areas where it could be improved, particularly when you consider the commensurate talents of its rivals, for the money the Astra manages to be a respectable used purchase.
The interior is nicely styled and offers plenty of space. While it perhaps offers not as much in the rear as rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, it still has a decent amount of room upfront. Those front seats also have plenty of adjustment, especially if the car has sports seats fitted. There are, however, a few too many buttons on the dashboard, which means the infotainment isn’t quite as easy to use as rival systems. It’s also quite dark inside, with thick windscreen pillars blocking the light coming in and obscuring your view.
Where the Astra lets down is the driving experience, as it simply isn’t a patch on the Golf, let alone the scintillating Ford Focus. Opel fitted a more advanced rear suspension to this generation of Astra, but the car still doesn’t outhandle its contemporaries. The ride, at least, is comfortable. In short, the Astra is tuned to cope well with potholes and speed bumps rather than to become a B-road hack.
Dual front airbags, side airbags and head-protecting side curtains are standard equipment. Antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC) are also standard. Intelligent seat belt reminders are fitted to both front seats. The Astra is very safe – it was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP. All models come with six airbags, traction control, anti-lock brakes, ISOFIX child-seat mounts and electronic stability control as standard. You can also add active head restraints to SRi, Elite and Bi-Turbo models.