German engineering in a very affordable package
The plastic covering of the instrument panel have come loose on one side, will get the dealer to fix it during next service.
Apart from that everything is just perfect. No problems from the engine or interior fittings. Everything is still as good as new.
Like most reviews on the Astra, its handling prowess is always praised. This car can really handle well.
I have absolutely total confidence in this car when taking corners as its chassis always feel in control at any point on a bend. This sweet suspension setup makes you want to try going faster than the last time you took that corner.
Twisty roads are a joy to encounter, as the car composes itself after every turn. It seems like she is always ready for the next bend coming up, way before the driver manages to get the steering back to the center position. I know many say the Focus is the best in this area, but I can say that the Astra isn't far off.
Steering feel is also very good, as every bump the front wheels experience are translated to the driver sufficiently.
Expressway driving is like driving a much larger car. It is very composed and stable at 120km/h. Unlike the Japanese cars with their steering "float" feeling at high speeds.
1.4 16v Ecotec engine is a little underpowered though and feels lethargic in low revs.
However, if you are willing to rev the engine (that's why you need a manual transmission) and keep it between 2500rpm and 4500rpm, the ecotec engine becomes very powerful (feels like a 1.6) and gives out a relatively pleasant, sporty sound. Not exactly BMW's engine acoustics, but good enough for me.
Basically, this is a very good car and a good alternative in my "Japanese car dominated" country. Feels like a car from a much larger class. It cannot match its more refined and prestigious fellow Germans, but it sure beats any Sunny/Sentra, Civic, Lancer or Corolla (the previous model at least) in terms of driving pleasure.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th April, 2002