Great handling, great mpg (30-32 in everyday driving). Good enough go, but get the manual transmission. Perfect for 2 people, 3 dogs, a week of luggage, and 2 bikes (hitch mount). The only cars that I considered in the same class were the Audi A3 and the VW GTI. The Astra (with the sport suspension) has it all except for the horsepower - all else is perfect, and at a great price! A good compromise of performance, fun, functionality, and economy.
Handling, economy, functionality, fun. sunroof, manual trans, and premium audio.
The lease on my Toyota Corolla was coming up in a few months and I started test driving Eco / Compact cars in the $14k to 22k price range. I drove the following; Honda Fit / Civic, Toyota Matrix / Yaris, VW Rabbit, Mazda 3 and Scion xD before coming across this little gem. I was leery at first because of the GM label but after a test drive this car beat out all the others I had driven in its class and quickly shot to the number one on my list. It's gas economy and surprising fit and feel are only out done by it's amazingly fun sporty drive and sexy European look. I honestly have no idea why there aren't way more of these on the road than the hand full I've seen.
Sport tuning / suspension. Sleek European style. Standard tilt / scope steering. Standard rims. Huge cargo space (seats down, 2nd best in it's class). Best handling in its class (from what I test drove)
Key hole is a little close to the steering wheel at a mildly annoying angle. Skirt and ground kit options (I've seen the ones in Europe, I want!) Control layout and button system ease of use improved. More powerful engine option. 6 speed manual option
I bought this car in late December for $14,500 out the door! Having owned a Civic EX previously, I am having some difficulty getting used to the tight suspension, stiff ride, rigid seating, and excellent acceleration. The instrument displays are a bit confusing but are really nicely arranged and detailed. The car has so many more features than new Civics for a lot less money and seems much better built. Having never owned a GM product, I am shocked by the quality of this car.
Suspension (and ride), acceleration (I have the 5 speed), control center, gadgets (heated seats, fuel consumption calculator, cruise, hatchback versatility, smooth clutch, build quality (it sounds solid when you slam the doors). Mileage is 31-33 so far in mixed city/highway driving.
I am 290 pounds and six foot tall, however, I love my Astra! I traded in my 2005 GMC Sierra pickup for my Astra and I have made the right desicion. The Astra is American owned and German made! I have plenty of room for me my wife and child. Im getting 28mpg on highway and 24 MPG in city. I really wanted something environmentally friedly, economical, and well built. I think I have made the right desicion.
I picked this car over a Honda Fit after Saturn came down to 15000 on a 19,000 car (1000 dealer cash back + 1000 GM credit card discount + 2000 red tag discount). I've had it for a month now and I really enjoy it. I've always thought that GM and Ford make excellent cars only refuse to sell them here. Well this is the exact same car as the Opel Astra and its built in Belgium. Its not Euro car that's redressed and made it fulfill what Americans want.
Design - the car really is beautiful. Both the 5 door and 3 door. It made the Mazda 3 hatchback look like a toy. Handling - incredible, stability control and ABS are standard. Others: seats are very comfortable, the the dash looks cool and 6 air bags are standard
These are minor problems: Cup holders - there is one up front (2 in back) but you have stretch your arm back to get it. No ash tray - not sure why don't 128% of all Europeans smoke? No MP3 jack - this is a big no-no