The historic municipality of Cascais, framed by pristine dunes and crashing waves, is nestled between the Sintra Mountains to its north and the Tagus estuary to this popular holiday destination’s south. Whether gentle curves along the Atlantic, mountain bends climbing to an elevation of up to 500 metres or paths for agile manoeuvres in the charming alleys of neighbouring Lisbon, the privileged town of Cascais – pronounced ‘cash-cah-ish’ – provided the perfect backdrop for exploring the driving characteristics of the new Astra.
– Konstantin Korostov –
A close-up of the hybrid model
The 14-day test driving event on the Portuguese Riviera was a special one for the Opel team – and not just because media reps were able to drive the new Astra for the first time. ‘It was the first media launch outside of Germany since November 2019,’ says Konstantin Korostov, Project Manager Events at Stellantis. The hosts were accordingly meticulous in their preparation for the event, as well as in regard to the measures surrounding Covid-19 and hygiene. “A warm breeze, the sound of the mighty Atlantic waves, the warm light of the sunset reflected on the Astra – everything fit perfectly. Everyone involved in the event gave their best and we created a fantastic setting so that the journalists could get to know our newcomer in a perfect setting,” says Konstantin Korostov, thoroughly satisfied. Four hundred fifty media reps from 25 countries accepted the personal invitations – a fleet of 45 Astras awaited them. In addition to the modern petrol and diesel versions, the event also showcased the hybrid model – the plug-in hybrid – whose petrol engine and electric motor combine to provide a total power of 180 HP.
‘It’s clear to us after just one test drive:
this is the best Astra ever made.’
– Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung –
This was the length of the Astra’s extensive scenic test route – along the Atlantic coast, into the mountains and on past Sintra. The entire municipality has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1995. The option of a second, somewhat shorter tour of 56 kilometres was also available.
Villa spotting in the mountains
Just like the new Astra, which is already in its eleventh generation, the newcomer’s test terrain (the cultural landscape west of Lisbon) is bristling with history, as well. Since the Middle Ages, aristocrats have been spending their summers in the mild climes of the Sintra mountains, as evidenced by its many palaces – the most famous of these being the Pena Palace. Its mix of medieval and elaborate architectural styles elicits comparisons to Germany’s Bavarian castles. Romans, Arabs and Visigoths have left their mark on the hills of Sintra, too. For example, the Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros in Portuguese) is a Moorish castle that was built in the eighth century. The highpoint of Cascais’ history came in the middle of the nineteenth century as swimming in the sea came into fashion. The Portuguese King Luís I had his summer residence built there on the coast, and within a very short amount of time, the fishing village, 30 kilometres west of Lisbon, advanced to become a popular seaside destination.
The Martinhal holiday resort was used for accommodating the guests. The most important information on the latest generation of Astra, which was designed, developed and manufactured at Opel’s headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany, was presented at a press conference. And journalists always had well-versed discussion partners to answer their questions, whether during the coffee break, looking out over Atlantic in the ‘Restaurante Nortada’, or at the evening dinner in the resort. Thomas Stüber, Astra’s chief engineer, was among those partners and received a lot of positive feedback during the two weeks of the event, ‘…whether it was about the Pure Panel cockpit, the ergonomic AGR seats [seats that bear the seal of approval from the German Campaign for Healthier Backs – Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V., AGR] or the Matrix Light.’
‘Opel goes for gold (…) and has shown both courage and flair in its development of the new Astra.’
– AutoBild –
– Thomas Stüber –
‘What pleased me most was the emotional feedback, which was detached from specifications and technical details,’ remarks the engineer. The test drivers said they felt ‘comfortable’ in the Astra, ‘in good hands’, ‘safe’ and ‘at one with the car’ – all the aspects of ‘perceived quality’ that were intended to be there. ‘It was fascinating to see that the goals we pursued during the development process had flowed into the car exactly as we had intended, and that the media reps noticed them,’ notes the chief engineer. This includes a multitude of details, such as the louvres behind the side windows – an homage to its predecessor, the Opel Kadett. And this model, the Kadett A, was also on display in Cascais, as was the Astra F and the Astra Sports Tourer, the station wagon version of the newcomer.
‘Not all that glitters is Golf’
– spiegel.de –
Resuming the upward trend
Opel CEO, Uwe Hochgeschurtz, was also there in person to talk to journalists on the Portuguese Riviera. ‘In the many conversations we had with the media reps, I was most impressed by the description “a real contender”. Because that’s exactly what we want to be – the contender on the market,’ says Opel’s CEO. The company was able to increase its market share in 2021, and we want to continue this upward trend. ‘We have the perfect car to make this happen with the new Astra,’ says Uwe Hochgeschurtz.
Influencers, TV representatives and lifestyle journalists also accepted the invitation to the test drives, in addition to print journalists. The new Astra consistently received praise in the many TV reports that were produced during the event: The high-performance Pure Panel cockpit reminds Andreas Jancke, host of Germany’s largest car themed TV program, Auto Mobil (aired on the German TV channel Vox), of the command centres seen in Star Wars films. In the PS-Automagazin report from the German TV channel, n-tv, the host highlights the price stability of the ‘sporty speedster with a crease’, and Bastian Spohn of the German auto, motor und sport channel states that in terms of handling, the car has succeeded in striking a balance between dynamic ambitions and comfort.
‘The return to the top class
should have been achieved.’
– zeit.de –
‘The well-tuned hybrid is complemented by a solid operating concept and altogether exceptional driving comfort.’
– auto motor und sport –
‘With its sixth generation of Astra, Opel has not only succeeded in making a profound visual impact, we wouldn’t be surprised if this compact car follows in the footsteps of the smaller Corsa, and once again becomes the brand’s most successful model.’
– motor1.com –
‘As is usually the case with Opel, the seats are exemplary – and so is the LED lighting.’
– Der Standard –
‘The attention to detail, (…) the sleek rear lights, (…) the compartments with their flocked interiors to give them that extra bit of grip (…) and the louvres behind the side windows, which remind us of the classic Kadett model, leave a lasting impression that we will never forget.’
– spiegel.de –