Opel has upgraded its Astra range in South Africa with cosmetic changes, the introduction of a new 2,2-litre top-of-the range model and new Irmscher body kit on the Astra 1,8.

Opel has upgraded its Astra range in South Africa with cosmetic changes, the introduction of a new 2,2-litre top-of-the range model and new Irmscher body kit on the Astra 1,8.

A range of eight models is offered, comprising three Astra hatchback derivatives and five Astra Classic saloons.

The new Astra Classic range features: the Astra Classic 1,6; the Astra Classic 1,6 Comfort; the Astra Classic 1,6 Elegance; the Astra Classic 1,8 Elegance; and the Astra Classic 2,2 Executive.

The three models in the hatch range are now the Astra 1,6 Comfort (replaces the 1,6 CS), Astra 1,8 Sport (replaces the mid-specification level 1,8 CSE), and the top of the range hatch is now the Astra 1,8 Irmscher.

Safety is enhanced by the addition of side airbags for the driver and front seat passenger on all models from the Astra 1,6 Comfort level up.

The new 2,2 litre 16-valve engine in the Astra Classic Executive is the first of a new generation of four-cylinder ECOTEC engines with aluminium cylinder heads and cylinder blocks. It produces 108 kW with maximum torque of 203 N.m.

Opel says the use of lightweight aluminium for the cylinder block means the engine weighs just 138 kg, which is about 10 per cent lighter than the Astra 2,0 litre engine (weighed without engine oil and coolant).

The 1,8 litre models in the Hatch and Classic ranges benefit from a power increase to maximum output of 92 kW at 5600 r/min and torque of 170 N.m at 3600 r/min from the Opel Z18XE1 engine. Traction control is added to the specification as well.

The Astra 1,8 Irmscher model differs significantly from other models mainly in appearance with the addition of an Irmscher body kit. A rear tailgate spoiler, front and rear lip spoilers and Rocker mouldings in body colour.

The sporty treatment is carried over into the interior where the Irmscher influence includes and aluminium look centre console, gear knob, clutch brake and accelerator pedals, steering wheel and handbrake lever. Black leather seats offset the metallic interior treatment. A multi-function information display and electro chromatic rear view mirror are standard. Wheels are 16” alloy fitted with 205/50 VR16 tyres.

Power comes from the same 1,8 litre engine as fitted to the 1,8 Sport, with traction control and cruise control.

Opel has given the whole Astra Classic range new carpets, chrome instrument surrounds, chrome inside door handles, and a rear courtesy light. The fuel system features evaporative emission control to prevent fuel vapours from being released into the atmosphere. Vehicle security is upgraded to an “Ultrasonics” system.

The Astra Classic 1,6 Elegance also gains an electro-chromatic rear view mirror and velour cloth trim.

The entry level Astra Classic comes with a driver’s airbag, disc brakes all round, and a six-speaker radio/front loading CD combination. Colour-coded bumpers and mirrors, a tri-band bee sting antenna, remote speed sensitive central locking and a transponder immobiliser are also featured.

“Specification items that just a couple of years ago would not have featured highly on buyers’ wish lists are essentials today. Perhaps the best example is airbags,” said Malcolm Gauld, Delta’s director of sales and marketing.

“When these were first offered on vehicles in South Africa as an add-on cost option there were few takers. In a far more safety conscious and competitive environment they now feature high on the list of desirable items, to the extent that certain fleet buyers demand at least a driver’s side airbag,” he said.

A 36 month, 100 000 km and 36 months anti-corrosion warranty is standard, along with the Delta VIP Driver Support Plan that covers the vehicle for the warranty period. The Astra range now comes standard with a five year/100 000km Full Maintaince included in the price.

Prices:

Astra Hatch 1,6 Comfort R157 070

1,6 Sport R184 330

1,8 Irmscher R190 310

Astra Classic 1,6 R143 340

Classic 1,6 Comfort R161 830

Classic 1,6 Elegance R173 580

Classic 1,8 Elegance R189 870

Classic 2,2 Executive R199 340