Monday, October 29, 2012

Used Car Review - Opel Astra (2000-2004)

Desiring an affordable German car without draining your wallet? Myk Belmonte finds this vehicle that suits your needs. And this car would fit our last wave to the month of October.

2000-2004 Opel Astra

Who can recall the Opel Kadett from their childhood days? Nostalgia aside, but why am I writing about the Kadett? The Astra replaced the Kadett since the former is the topic of this used car review. But, the Astra name itself came from GM's subsidiary who built the car that the Astra replaced.

Called the Astra G when it was introduced in 1998 (care to guess what the previous model was called?) for the European markets. A long line of body styles and engines are available to the public since launch. You'll be shocked if I said that the Astra had a V8 engine offered. But, that particular engine was utilized in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series throughout production days. While most markets gave way to the Astra H in 2005, this old body called as the Astra Classic II was offered in 2004-2009 and until 2011 in Brazil.

GM Automobiles Philippines brought in the Opel marque in 1997 and three years later, the Astra was made available to the general public. The good thing was, it competed with its Japanese and American competitors price and feature wise. And another advantage is that the wagon version is offered since the only competing model during that time was Suzuki Esteem (that's if you consider prices as a main factor). With the expansion of the Chevrolet brand in the mid-2000's and the poor after-sales service that the distributor faced, the Opel Astra (and the whole brand) was put out to pasture in 2005. There is no direct successor to the vehicle locally up to now.

Value and Costs
Desiring an affordable but true German car? The good news is that, second hand Astra prices fall in the range of P120,000-P200,000. A true bargain since the low resale value is because of the reputation that the local distributor gave. Just make sure the unit you are getting is decently maintained.

How many times that people discourage you not to buy an Opel due to parts scarcity? Fear not anymore, there are numerous parts stores as well as the support of several clubs and online buying sites which you can procure parts abroad. There are no general problems on the Astra, but these include various issues surrounding the steering system, brake discs, and the twist-beam axle. Just make sure you have the patience and know where to buy parts and waiting for them.

Exterior and Interior
Kids, listen to me. Whenever you see the Opel Astra infront of you, don't get scared. It possess a friendly face and a tightly screwed body, which explains why this car is very solid and possess no gaps. Have a side view and you'll say that it looks distinctive and clean. Suffice to say, this vehicle carries clutter free angles and you won't laugh with this styling so elegant.

Hold the steering wheel and notice something silver, yes, the top and bottom parts have silver plastic trims, but a disadvantage if you have clammy hands since it could get hard to hold and non-absorbent. Placing your abubot in the glovebox? Sorry no chance, since the space that should be for the glove box was hogged by the CD player. A tacky mix of silver, beige, and black plastics is what the Astra's dashboard is about. Good for four occupants, but five is a tight squeeze

Among the eight engine choices for public consumption offered in various parts of the world, only an Ecotec 1,598cc engine which has 110hp at 6,000rpm and 150Nm at 3,600rpm. To tell the truth, this engine is nothing special to write about. If you are doing city duties, this is adequate but plan to take it on the highways, you'll complain for the lack of power which I will explain further in the next paragraph.

Driving Impressions
As I expound more of the slow part of the vehicle, I have to tell this especially that the slushbox is very slow from a standstill. The sport mode isn't much of a help, so better leave it on D then. If you attempt to do your 0-100km/h speed runs, it would take you an eternity to achieve that. In that case, get a manual transmission Astra if possible. The driving experience would be a mixed bag, unwanted road thingos would be transmitted to the occupants, and tire noise is very evident.

You wouldn't mind the deficiencies that the Astra has, but if you are after owning a German car (the other car that I'm referring to is the Volkswagen Polo Classic sold previously and it is a Spanish car - a SEAT to be particular - so it's German in the badge) the Astra would be a left choice. Make sure you are patient and accept the flaws, just like in a relationship.

The Good:
  • Versatile wagon
  • Solid body
  • A genuine German car
The Bad:
  • Some parts may not be quickly available
  • Slow when paired with the AT
  • Bulky
The Pick: Sedan or wagon with the MT

Engine: 1,598cc Ecotec I4 gasoline
Power: 110hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 150Nm @ 3,600rpm
Fuel Consumption: 7-10km/L (city), 10-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear rigid axle twist beam

Price (New): P750,000-P928,000 (range from 2000-2004)
Price (Now): P120,000-P200,000
Rivals: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra, Suzuki Esteem
On Sale: 2000-2005

Photos courtesy of

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