8 November 2018

South Africa: Opel Astra 1.6t Sport - Where's the Sparkle?

analysis

Opel has a proud hot hatch heritage, linked to a string of successes in production car racing - even if those glory days were many years ago. Can the current Astra Sport rekindle at least some of that motoring verve?

The Opel brand logo features a circle intersected by a lightning bolt, suggesting a certain energy and dynamism. But in the performance hatchback context, the marque hasn't had a real contender since the unruly, previous-generation Astra OPC.

The current, so-called K-Series Astra has had to do without a hot hatch flagship, focusing on more pragmatic virtues such as efficiency, refinement, safety and comfort instead. Admittedly, that's where the interest of most hatchback buyers is probably focused.

However, it leaves the Astra range without a much-needed halo model - a performance flagship able to earn the brand in general, and the Astra nameplate in particular, some valuable bragging rights in a crowded, cut-throat market.

It's a strategy that Volkswagen has used to great effect with its iconic GTI and R models. Ford has adopted a similar approach with its Focus STI and RS derivatives.

For now, the most athletic member of the Opel Astra clan is the 1.6T Sport. Yes, it's...

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