The new all-electric Opel Astra e

Motoring with Joe Rayfus: The electrying Astra

Once upon a time long, long ago, I bought a 1.4L 16v Opel Astra Saloon. It was navy blue, with awfully scratched hubcaps and it had a vulgar, greenish-blue pattern plastered up the centre of the seats.

The moment the local FBD office returned from their lunch break, there I was handing over a ridiculous wedge of cash in exchange for my first fully comprehensive policy in my own name. Seventy two hours later, however, the timing belt pulley sheared. So, with the top half of the engine wrecked, there I was at the side of the road, facing a bill of nearly two thousand punts! My love affair with that little Astra, my first car, was short-lived.

Now, more than 20 years later, I’ve just returned another Astra. This one, however, didn’t have an engine, never mind a timing belt; because this time round it was the new all-electric Opel Astra e.

The German carmaker has committed to a fully electric product portfolio in Europe by 2028.

The Astra Electric is Opel’s latest step towards becoming a fully electric brand and will be joined by the Frontera - the successor to the Opel Crossland B-SUV which will be offered with an all-electric drive later this year. Now, this electrified version of what is undoubtedly one of the best-known nameplates in motoring looks pretty much the same as its combustion-powered siblings. That’s a good thing because the Astra is one of the most appealingly designed hatchbacks on the road today.

When it was first revealed Opel’s designers talked about the car's muscle car qualities. Since then I’ve often heard its styling being described as “aggressive”, but to me, that sort of insinuates being on the cusp of committing an act of road rage. So, possibly not a term we should associate with a family five-door.

Instead, I’d dip into that bank of aesthetic describing terms and choose ‘sharp’ and ‘dynamic’ to describe the design of this latest Astra. Dressed in its ‘Voltaic Blue’ paint job with 18” Falcon full onyx alloy wheels and the black pack (which gives the car black front and rear Opel logos, Vizor frame, and a black roof) the Astra e is certain to turn heads.

In terms of boot capacity, the Astra e can hold up to 352 litres of luggage which increases to 1,268 litres when the rear seats are folded down.

Unsurprisingly, that’s about 16 per cent less space than the petrol-powered hatchback version, which boasts 422L /1,339L of space. Smaller boot space in EV versions of ICE cars is pretty much par for the course. However, if luggage space is the deciding factor for you, then just hold out for the impressive Sports Tourer variant of the Astra e.

The interior architecture of the Astra is developed around Opel’s clean and modern design philosophy. The result is a simple, minimalistic dash layout featuring two 10” fully-digital displays. The second display, which is subtly angled towards the driver, is a touchscreen that wirelessly integrates your smartphone via Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto. The new and intuitive smartphone-like user interface can be fully personalised with individual profile management including driver recognition. Additional peace of mind is ensured by the OpelConnect services emergency and breakdown call as well automatic updates over-the-air.

Climb inside the Astra’s cabin and you’ll be welcomed by ergonomic, adjustable seating which carries the ‘back-friendly’ AGR seal of approval. Comfortably, it’ll carry four adults, but the middle rear seat, as generally always is the case in the C-segment, is a bit too snug for an adult on anything more than a short journey. This isn’t helped by the fact, that unlike some other EV’s, the rear floor of the Astra e isn’t completely flat and the central console protrudes slightly into their floor space.

The Astra Electric can be charged to 80% of the battery capacity in under 30 minutes at a 100kW DC fast charging station and it is equipped as standard with a three-phase 11kW onboard charger for a wall box at home. However, the vast majority of homes only offer a single-phase supply of 7.2kW.

For those still anxious about making the switch to EV, let me say this, the Opel Astra Electric will provide you with all the familiarity of a trusted family hatchback whilst rewarding you with all the performance and money-saving benefits of a full EV. But what’s more, you’ll never need to get the timing belt changed!

The Opel Astra Electric is available in three trim levels - SC, Elegance, and GS – and retails from €39,598 including applicable grants. The model I tested was the top-spec GS model which is priced at €43,993.