Opel Astra Sports Tourer a compact estate which is spacious and fun to drive

The Opel Astra Sports Tourer boasts a snazzy cockpit (below left) and a capacious boot (below).
Opel Astra Sports Tourer. PHOTO: OPEL
The Opel Astra Sports Tourer boasts a snazzy cockpit (below left) and a capacious boot (below).
The Opel Astra Sports Tourer boasts a snazzy cockpit (above) and a capacious boot. PHOTO: OPEL
The Opel Astra Sports Tourer boasts a snazzy cockpit (below left) and a capacious boot (below).
The Opel Astra Sports Tourer boasts a snazzy cockpit and a capacious boot (above). PHOTO: OPEL

Opel's new Astra Sports Tourer is a compact estate which is spacious and fun to drive

Given the inherent practicality of station wagons, it is strange that pragmatic Singapore motorists rarely consider one while shopping for a new car.

This is true of most couples who, upon starting a family, immediately think about getting an MPV.

But if you have two children and simply need a bigger boot for kiddy accoutrements, then a station wagon might actually be adequate for your needs.

Between an estate and an MPV, it is pretty obvious which one is going to be more fun to drive. If you are a parent as well as a petrolhead, this point should resonate with you.

If big wagons are not your thing, there are compact options, such as the Peugeot 308SW and Volkswagen Golf Variant, to consider.

  • SPECS/OPEL ASTRA SPORTS TOURER

    Price: To be announced

    Engine: 1,399cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual select

    Power: 150bhp at 5,000pm

    Torque: 230Nm at 2,000-4,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 9.4 seconds

    Top speed: 210kmh

    Fuel consumption: 5.6 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Auto Germany

The Pug and the VW, however, will have to contend with the Opel Astra Sports Tourer when it arrives in September. The all-new model is a well-engineered car worth checking out.

For starters, it looks sharper than its predecessor. Opel's "blade styling" has evolved since the last model, with edgier lines and a bolder face. The swooping roofline makes the vehicle seem longer too.

But actually, the Sports Tourer is only 4mm longer than the older model. In fact, its 2,662mm wheelbase is 23mm shorter than before.

Now, a shorter wheelbase looks bad on paper, but the good news is that Opel has done a better job packaging the interior.

In the Sports Tourer, backseat occupants have 28mm more legroom and 25mm more shoulder room than in the previous model. Headroom for front and rear passengers has increased by 26mm and 38mm. The floor is also lower, making it easier to accommodate a third adult.

This compact estate has also grown more practical, thanks to its larger boot, which offers 540 litres of space with the rear seats up and 1,630 litres when they are folded. These figures are 40 litres and 80 litres more than what the previous model offered.

Catering to the driver's needs is a snazzier cockpit with prettier instruments and a more attractive and intuitive infotainment system. The system is neat and functional, with a responsive touchscreen and quick-loading menus. Apple's CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features.

Also standard is the Sports Tourer's more dynamic performance. The test-car was equipped with a brand new turbocharged 1.4-litre four-pot that produces 150bhp and 230Nm - 10bhp and 30Nm more compared to the older turbocharged 1.4-litre.

With the increased output, the Sports Tourer zips from nought to 100kmh in 9.4 seconds, or 1.4 seconds faster than before. The quicker acceleration is also helped by the car's weight, which Opel claims is at least 110kg lighter than before.

Behind the wheel, the Sports Tourer feels punchier and nimbler than its predecessor at low to moderately high speeds. But it does not have the meaty mid-range I expected. Above 120kmh, it feels flat.

The car displays solid roadholding. It feels perfectly composed during high-speed expressway runs and shines on the winding mountain roads.

The car tackles corners in a neat and planted manner.

Long sweeping bends are a cinch and understeer becomes apparent only when it is pushed hard through shorter and tighter corners.

Complementing the Sports Tourer's abilities is its new electromechanical steering system, which is quick and precise.

If you have never considered a station wagon, much less one wearing an Opel badge, the Astra Sports Tourer's spaciousness, dynamic handling and good looks might make you change your mind.

•The writer is with Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Prime estate'. Print Edition | Subscribe