Opel Astra J, one of the few cars where I struggle to find a purpose for. Here’s why, in today’s article which is far from being the most enthusiastic text you’ll see coming from Almost Car Reviews.
The Opel Astra H was a decent car, which developed reliability issues before the others, but which turned out to be a good second-hand choice in the end. Yes, it has reliability issues, but at least it is cheaper than the competition, which is also got it’s fair share of issues, especially the Mk5 Golf. The Opel Astra H had quickly become the favorite car of hooligans up to the age of 25 who have little money and a need for speed. With a 150-horsepower 1.9 CDTI engine that could be upgraded to 190 horsepower with minimum money, it’s easy to see why the Opel Astra H sold so well, despite reliability issues. It was cheap to buy, cheap to run and cheap to chav.
Sadly however, the Americans at GM were not satisfied with Opel’s sales and realized that they could no longer hold their own in Europe just by using American technology and borrowed engines. In fact, they realized that they didn’t really want to sell anything in Europe and started withdrawing from the market, and the end began with the Opel Astra J.
What does the new Opel Astra J bring?
Continuing the theme “looks matter”, this veritable Graham Norton of cars came with a toned down yet revolutionary look. The Opel Astra J is not as dramatic as the Opel Astra H, but it comes with a completely redesigned, modern look. It’s just that this has caused a serious problem for the Opel Astra J.
Who bought the Opel Astra J?
If it’s a car where I can’t identify the target audience, it would be the Opel Astra J. With a new look and a few extra pounds, the Astra J looks better but is not as dynamic as the already sluggish old Astra H. Looks better, but it still doesn’t excel in appearance. VW Golf has always stood out as a Bruce Willis kind of car: decent at every possible role, excelent at none in particular. The Ford Focus stood out for its dynamic performance, Renault Megane III stood out in it’s reliability. But the problem extends to the second-hand market aswell, with the Opel Astra J being only 500-1000 euros cheaper than the Opel Insignia, so an Opel fan will automatically go for the bigger sedan. So, now comes the famous question of the internet: Are there healthy people in the head to buy Opel Astra J? Do penguins have knees?
Opel Astra J engines
- 1.4 NA of 90 and 100 horsepower – An antique launched in 1996 and periodically improved, this naturally aspirated is much too small for the extended body of the Opel Astra J. It’s like feeding Big Keith only with milk, cereals and eggs. No scotch. Very reliable tho.
- 1.4 Turbo of 120 and 140 horsepower – The same 1.4 aspirated, only with a connected turbo and some issues with the water pump. Well, at least that’s not the only serious problem.
- 1.6 NA of 115 horsepower – Same 1.4 aspirated, but which studied a little more. Worked abit harder at the gym. Worked a little harder on it’s job.
- 1.6 Turbo 180-horsepower- The same 1.4 aspirated, but who learned a little more, who worked a little harder and who received a faulty turbo and some MAF problems.
- 2.0 Turbo 280-horsepower – This engine deserves a separate article, being reserved only for the fabulous Opel Astra J VXR.
- 1.3 CDTI of 95 horsepower – The old 1.3 CDTI that was too asthmatic for the old Astra H, now carried on to the Astra J in order to live its miserable existence until the first turbo failure and trip to the scrapyard. Great engine, but far too small for the Astra.
- 1.6 CDTI 110 and 136 horsepower – Launched in 2014 at the same time with Ebola, the 1.6 CDTI engine has proven to be quite reliable so far, needing only occasional software updates.
- 1.7 110, 125 and 130 horsepower CDTI – The old van engine is still spinning, much to the delight of all small sales agents and freelancer plumbers. Avoid the 125 and 130 horsepower versions that come equipped with the dying Denso injectors.
- 2.0 CDTI 160 and 165 horsepower – Like any European 2.0 diesel, there are problems. Irregular idling problems, ECU problems, software problems, turbo problems, DPF problems, EGR problems and so on. But atleast in 2014 it got a massive improvement reliability-wise.
- 2.0 CDTI Bi-Turbo 195 horsepower – Don’t feel Rambo enough and want more trouble? Do you chug down Monster Energy at every meal? Do you swim in Avoca river in winter just to test your limits? Are you an avid Old Spice fan? Do you watch Jackass for at least 25 hours a day? Then this engine is for you.
Opel Astra J general issues
- M32 gearbox – The Americans have decided that they do not want to invest so much in development and research and have decided to continue to use the 6-speed manual gearbox code named M32. A classic example of “let it go”, a pity that this gearbox can actually crack into 1001 pieces. The affected engines are 1.4 Turbo, 1.6 Turbo and 1.7 CDTI.
- Noises and crickets inside, it can be anything so you either get used to it or disassemble the whole car, piece by piece. And if you don’t disassemble it, it will disassemble itself, many interior parts resigning from this Grand Tour of cars: it started promisingly, but it quickly disappointed.
- The DPF is not programmed to continue from where it left off when you shut off the engine. You started the car, the DPF resumes the regeneration process and this will contaminate your entire system with unburn oil and fuel. So if you get caught in the parking lot, put a CD with “Tom Jones” and wait for it to end.
- Rainwater accumulates in the front door sills so be prepared with diving equipment when going to the car after a slightly heavier rain than a 0.5 liter can thrown from the roof of a block.
- The electromechanical parking brake has the habit of deactivating and your car will take it downhill. It is important to leave the car in gear every time. Ironically, the problem dates back to the Opel Astra H, which also had problems with the parking brake, but what can you do about it. Wait, think, roll, drive, park, do an interview, solve a equation, there’s nothing you can do about it.
- High fuel consumption and dynamic performance as good as pre-surgery John Goodman. The Opel Astra J is bigger, rounder and heavier than the old Astra H. If the Astra H was the official car of hooligans up to the age of 25, the Opel Astra J is the official car of sales agents in England who didn’t work hard enough in order to receive an Insignia.
- The steering column is still a common problem with Opel Astra J models, continuing the tradition launched by Opel Astra H.
- The front brakes are made of a combination of toilet paper, rubber, carelessness and cheese. Many Opel Astra J had problems especially with calipers.
Opel Astra J verdict
I will repeat the question: Who buys an Opel Astra J? Why buy an Opel Astra J? You could buy a good-looking car, but the Renault Megane looks just as good, costs just as little, and is reliable. Do you really want Opel? Get an Insignia, which is marginally more expensive. The only saving points of the Opel Astra J are the appearance and interior identical to the one on the Insignia. You will never hear anyone say, “Yes! I succeeded in life! I bought an Opel Astra! ” tho.
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