Great fun to drive, massive bang for your bucks
One of the headlights had a leaky seal and retained water.
Various rattles from trim - all fixed under warranty.
Traction system failure light kept coming on, took several attempts to correct.
Chrome pedal cover on accelerator pedal fell off.
Coolant mysteriously vanished, required topping up only once so far.
Wheels were rusted to the hubs when the time came for the first wheel align/balance. Cost extra to remove the rust and do a full re-balancing.
Reading the above you might think that I am not happy with this car. Quite the contrary. It is a fantastic looking car and extremely fun to drive. All the initial glitches were corrected under warranty (except the rusted wheels).
The selling dealer gets the thumbs down. They were very rude and condescending, possibly due to the type of vehicle and the fact that I am only 21. Anyway, I didn't take the car back there for the warranty work. Instead I took it to dealership near my house, who were also rude and arrogant. Finally I moved house about 6 months ago and found a really good dealership nearby, who have been very kind and done a thorough job on the car.
The build quality is excellent. The paintwork and interior trim is flawless. The leather seats look really good and have proved to be quite resistant to wear. All the controls are well placed and easy to read. The Euro-black cabin doesn't bother me and it helps to cut down glare on bright days (that's every day in Queensland). The air-conditioning is extremely effective, even without tinted windows.
The car has really tightened up in the last 2000 km or so. The gearbox was quite notchy at first and hard to put into 2nd gear, but that has cleared up. The dealer made no protests about checking the clutch and gearbox oils for me when I asked either, so top marks there.
The engine is the best thing about this car. It is incredibly smooth and quiet at all speeds. The turbo works well, with a distinctive turbo-induced surge of power when you put your foot down. It's so responsive that it actually scared me a little when I first started driving it. During a normal takeoff, you can instantly get a massive surge of power just by flooring the accelerator.
It requires some finesse with the clutch to take off hard from a full stop without smoking the tires. The excellent traction control system will save you if you're a bit too enthusiastic with the throttle on takeoff. The stock tires are Dunlop SP Sport 8000s which retail for about $300 a wheel, so you'll want to make them last.
The handling is superb and the Astra will take almost any corner you can throw at it and leave cars twice the price behind. This does mean that the ride is very firm, and can be a little uncomfortable on second-rate roads.
Overall a fantastic car and great fun to drive. It certainly gets some looks and attention on the road, some positive, and some negative. I'd love to try out one of the Turbo convertibles.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 22nd April, 2005