Opel Astra Sports Tourer review (2024) – The German station wagon

Like its cousin the Peugeot 308, the Opel Astra is available in an estate version. While the Astra’s luggage compartment can accommodate more luggage, it is still a pleasure to drive, even if it means sacrificing some of the family-friendly features of the hatchback.

Have you heard of rental car syndrome? These are the cars that don’t excel in any area without being bad anywhere. These are the cars with no fuss that simply get you from A to B. In short, these are cars first and foremost. And maybe that’s why car rental companies love them. Love what? Opels, of course! Imagine a little grey Corsa snoozing in a Europcar car park, wedged between a Captur and a C4, both ready to take off for the week. It’s easy to visualise. However, the Astra Sports Tourer could well shatter those preconceptions, all the more so in its brilliant Kobalt Blue hue.

A blood sister to the Peugeot 308, the Opel Astra delivers similar performance in a less demonstrative package. Its front end? Gone is the French car’s XXL radiator grille surrounded by fangs, while the German model retains a black mask incorporating its LED matrix headlamps. The same applies to the profile, where the Astra has fairly flat body panels, while the 308 is excessively curvaceous. On board, too, the German benefits from a more conventional layout, with a normal-sized steering wheel and physical ventilation controls. Yes, with real buttons that you can feel, touch and press… A silly remark perhaps, but one that clearly undermines all the difficulties you might encounter in the 308. In short, the Astra Sports Tourer is conventional, and I deeply appreciate this choice. Admittedly, the quality appears to be slightly lower than in the 308, but that’s down to a few square centimeters of hard plastics, details that the average person will certainly never notice. What they and I will definitely notice, however, is the remarkable comfort of the seats, which are spacious and well-designed, neither too firm nor too hard, and which easily ward off fatigue over the long distance. 

God, it’s hard!

Ouch! A nasty bridge connection from the motorway brings me back to reality: in true German fashion, this Astra Sports Tourer is firm, too firm, unnecessarily firm. The sporty GS trim and optional 18-inch wheels are clearly not good for the spine. And even at high speeds, this firmness is rather gentle… So don’t be surprised in the slightest in town, where this stiffness is a real nuisance when driving over manhole covers and other speed bumps. It seems that Opel had already planned ahead by installing pleasant seats to try and counterbalance the excessive harshness. Mission partially successful… especially as if hospitality is the order of the day up front, it doesn’t really apply to the rear seats as legroom is limited. Where the Astra Sports Tourer really excels is in terms of soundproofing, since wind noise is superbly contained on the motorway, even better than on the 308, which is no slouch either. This peace of mind may occasionally be broken by the combustion engine, which is quite noisy under acceleration. This will happen quite often if you have to drive a long way because the electric range is mediocre. Quite simply, despite the light foot of yours truly, the German can’t go more than thirty kilometers before waking up its four-cylinder engine. There’s more bad news for long-distance drivers: because of the batteries, the fuel reserve is far too small to hope for more than 600 km of motorway range. It’s a real pain, especially when travelling abroad.

“So, instead of criticizing the car all the time, could you give us some other qualities, Mr Grumpy? Of course, and all you have to do is get off the long stretches of motorway and onto the small country lanes. Thanks to its very authoritative suspension, the Astra displays all its talent with impeccable cornering behavior serving up excellent handling. The steering may not be the most responsive, or even the most precise, but it’s still a pleasure to drive, with a sound chassis that allows you to push the car to its limits without getting scared. The engine’s 180bhp are also responsive in Sport mode, and the gearbox shifts quite efficiently. The only thing that spoils the party is the brake pedal, which feels really atrocious. Let’s console ourselves with the boot space, which comes to 516 litres on this plug-in hybrid version. That’s good, but you won’t be surprised to learn that the pure combustion models do better, with 593 litres. In both cases, the load sill is particularly low and the tailgate can be opened by motor, at an extra cost. While we’re on the subject, the equipment on this Astra Sports Tourer GS is impressive, with Level 2 semi-autonomous driving, head-up display, heated seats and steering wheel, 360° camera, and so on. And that’s a good thing, considering the price, which isn’t exactly friendly: €49,200! It’s expensive, of course, and that’s probably why this version won’t be a big hit with private customers. Businesses, on the other hand, will be able to get their money’s worth, thanks to the hybridization that will enable them to reduce their tax bill as much as possible. My little finger says so!  

Strengths

  • Very good handling
  • Quiet on the motorway
  • Sufficient boot space

Weaknesses

  • Ride is too firm
  • Limited range
  • Expensive

Verdict: 6.5/10

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