2004 Opel Astra Sport Hatch

Underrated. I’ve not seen more than a handful of these. Take another look. That’s a car many people could afford with little effort. Yet few bothered. Market failure, I say.

2004 Opel Astra Sporthatch. Image: autoevolution.com
2004 Opel Astra Sporthatch. Image: autoevolution.com

This is what the AA said: “Perhaps the greatest recommendation for the Astra Sport Hatch is that it feels very similar to the BMW 1 Series, both inside the cabin and in its on-road behaviour. It may lack the much-vaunted 50/50 weight distribution of the BMW but it drives as sweetly, seems just as well built and of course is much cheaper.”

And this is what Parker’s said: “It’s entertaining to drive too thanks to a lower ride height than the five-door, although the steering still feels a little remote. The cabin is disappointing – it’s a dull design and the switches on the centre console are fiddly to use while the boot is awkward to access due to a narrow opening and high lip. If you can forgive these shortcomings however the Astra Sport Hatch makes a chic three-door and comes with a good choice of engines including some hot hatch rivalling turbocharged units.”

Honest John wrote: “Eye-catching looks. Excellent balance between sharp handling and a comfortable ride. Perky yet economical engines. Reliable.”

Car magazine probably wrote: “Even if this car could raise the dead and could turn lead into gold, we hate it. It might look good, drive well and be reliable and cheap – it is all of those – but it’s a Vauxhall and that means we’d rather be trapped inside a burning wheelie bin than be asked to sit at the wheel of this car.” I am being satirical there. I didn’t check what they wrote.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

16 thoughts on “2004 Opel Astra Sport Hatch”

  1. A different story here in the UK, where I gather for a three door variant the Sport Hatch formed an uncommonly large proportion of sales. Indeed, I know of four people who have owned a Sport Hatch, one of which being me (1.8 VVT SRI, if you’re interested). I don’t think the replacement GTC has enjoyed the same level of success due to optimistic pricing and a ridiculously small boot.

    1. I’m guessing the boot is ridiculously small because the wheel arches need to accomodate ridiculously big wheels? That’s the feature I find the most irritating about the GTC.

  2. The boot was about acceptable for this class. Parker´s provide a comparison:
    Astra Sport Hatch: 312 litres (or 302 – both are cited on the same page),
    Seat Leon 341
    Kia Proceed 340
    Citroen C4 314.
    You can´t be all things to all people. If the boot was bigger the car gets longer or the rear room smaller or the rear visibility worse….or the styling is spoiled. It seems like a fine compromise to me. The ordinary Astra is there for people who can´t control how much they pack for the weekend!


    1. I should append that to say “boot aperture”. The Sport Hatch had a reasonably sized boot and aperture. The boot of the GTC is a reasonable size, but the hatch is small and the lip set incredibly high. The styling would not have suffered from a lower lip. Such a criticism may seem churlish, but these are hatchbacks, after all. I had enough trouble manoeuvring a pair of Ikea wardrobe flat packs into my Sport Hatch (come on, we’ve all been there), and that had quite a wide aperture by comparison to the GTC.

  3. By a country mile the best bit of these cars were THAT windscreen. I LOVED going to every motor show and watching people’s reactions as they climbed in. It’s still awesome.

  4. Superb. This is a very pleasing car. Personally I might go without the so-called “panorama” windscreen but with, or without, this is a fine vehicle. I imagine it has future-classic potential.

    About panoramas. They are horizontal,. These roof-screens are offering a view which in movie-making parlance is equivalent to a tilt (making the camera rotate in relation to a transverse axis). If the a-pillars were absent *then* it would be a panoramic screen. I don´t blame customers but the manufacturers and automotive writers for encouraging this mis-use of a good word.

  5. I didn’t know they were that rare in Europe. I see at least three Saturn Astra 3-doors around town and half a dozen 5-doors, not bad for a car that was available for only about one year and that the worst new-car sales year in decades.

    1. The five door and station wagon are certainly not rare in Europe at all – there’s thousands of them about. It’s only this three door that is very scarce.

  6. Yes, to be precise: the three door is a rarity in Europe but the other versions are part of the scenery. And I really enjoy looking at them. It´s better than not liking looking at them. Unlike some of the other vehicles in this class, the Astra can convey a pleasant sense of modest comfort without being so affected as a Lancia. A dash of chrome, a good cloth and the lustrous paint of the Astra suggest reasonable comfort. Opel need to find me and investigate if other people can be made to feel the way I do about the Astra.

    1. I suspect what most people see when they look at the current Astra is a very pretty rental car. They will be totally happy driving it around for a day or two. No one will look at them, no one will try to steal it, no one will think you’re poor, no one will think you’re rich, no one will think anything to be honest. And that is Opel’s problem. They are fine anonymous white goods that people don’t mind using, but that people certainly do not aspire to want to own.

  7. While I agree that is the consensus, I am at a loss to understand how Astras firmly fall into the white goods cateogory and Focuses and Golfs don´t. Part of Opel´s problem is that this consensus is repeated endlessly but it´s a meta-fact not a fact about the car itself. Objectively, there is nothing markedly different about the Astra and in some ways it is qualitatively nicer. The paint and pressings are noticeably well done. It looks like nothing else wherease the Ford is indentifiable by elimination, like the Citroen C4. Another thing is, who is aspiring to Focuses and Aurises? Does anyone truly aspire to a Golf? I think they have luckily made themselves the default car but apart from the very expensive GTi, they are nothing very special. The consensus says there is a difference but that´s the only objective fact there is.

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