Micropost: the 1998-2004 Opel Astra Comfort

Not another Astra, Richard. Yes: it’s the rare 3-door with full Comfort spec.

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That means green-grey velour, rear headrestraints and rear centre armrests plus a/c. Did any Focus or Golf three door have such luxurious trim? If it wasn’t such an unusual trim-body combination I would not have tried to photograph it.  Generally, three door versions of the cars used to be priced lower than the five doors and were more budget-orientated. Opel offered another path to top-level trim so you could avoid the five door if you wanted.

Author: richard herriott

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

11 thoughts on “Micropost: the 1998-2004 Opel Astra Comfort”

  1. I got to drive five door versions of this car in 1.4L 16v petrol guises on a few occasions as hire cars in the early noughties. The dynamics of the car were quite delightful – the gear change and engine being refined and perky, the handling and ride sweet and deft. It was nearly as impressive as the Focus of the same era – note ‘nearly’. One sat low and the dash was a bit upright and clunky. I wasn’t much taken by the ‘industrial look’ styling outside either (the C-pillar arrangement where the rearward edge descends to meet a slightly jutting spoiler that arcs over the rear lights … was all a bit fussy for me). A good drive, then, but forever in the shadow of the Golf IV and Focus I.

    Thanks for the memory.

    1. Wow. That’s quite a eulogy. I’ve never driven one of these (probably the best Astra from a design point of view), but have driven other Astras, and always found the ride brittle and the gearchange poor. Ugly dashboards too. The petrol engines were always ok, but invariably came with a horrid fly wheel effect which didn’t shed revs nearly quick enough.

      Did they get this one right and the others wrong? Am I just biased against GM products?

      Of all the cars I have driven, two of my least favourite have been the Daewoo/Chevy Lacetti (2005 model, horrendous) and the just superceded Corsa (nasty).

      As you may have guessed, I am not a fan.

    2. While I like this one, the most pleasing is the 1992 E about which I have written a vast amount. This one offers a more technicalesque character and ought to be contrasted with the 2004 Focus which had something of the same feel. The next version moved things along a bit and managed, with the right amount of brightwork, to be a classy smaller car. If only the Opel engineers had been allowed to dial in a shade more driver involvement they might not be perennially playing second fiddle to the Focus and Golf.

  2. The well-used Vauxhall Astra 2 (Kadett) we had at work had that same low driving position and high dash. Even for tall me, I felt rather as if I was driving a bath. Albeit a bath I got to feel quite affectionate for.

    Do GM still pay you that retainer Richard?

  3. When I saw this one I realised that other 3-door C-class cars seldom had such plush rear accomodation. Isn’t it the assumption that people who chose 3-door hatches seldom travelled four up. This car is nearly as much a gin palace as a 90s VentoJettaVentoBora but with fewer doors. At the same time Toyota, Nissan and Mazda still offered their small saloons with less kit. So, Opel saw a gap that was easily filled: put the seats from the Astra saloon into the wagon and charge €600 more.
    The Astra G styling is very neat and crisp and the C-pillar quite distinctive. Yet again, Opel serve up unappreciated design. I drove this version and didn’t like the switchgear. The Bertone model is appealing.

    1. It’s reasonably logical that, apart from lush coupes, if you’re happy to have your rear passengers contort themselves to get into your car, you won’t care whether they have fancy seats.

    2. I guess it was predominantly empty nester OAPs that were willing to pay for high spec cars but didn’t care about rear doors.
      Honda’s EP Civic (breadvan shape) offered the high spec SE model as a 3-door. Pretty sure the ’02 Toyota Corolla was available as a 3-door in high(ish) T3 spec as well.
      Many C-segment cars have done away with the 3-door option altogether, which is logical given the size they have grown to. Focus, Megane, 308, Tipo, Auris, Pulsar etc etc

  4. Andy W: I´d be very curious to know if that was indeed the case. I had not thought about who actually wanted the comfort of a saloon with the ingress-egress problems of a three door. My bet is that young couples with no children might have gone with it or else it could have been a second car for someone used to also driving something larger part of the time. I´ve never seen the EP Civic with anything other than grey cloth and a horrible prison cell rear compartment. Ditto the Corolla. I didn´t think Japanese automotive design law permitted a rear centre armrest.

    1. A shooting brake could have looked great Richard. Not sure how well it would have sold. Opel did persist for longer than anyone else in selling those 2 door vans based on the estate variant though. They always struck me as a bit awkward looking and awkward to get stuff in and out of. There was a reasonably well specced comfort line 3 door mark 4 golf but I think the a/c wasn’t standard. It did have velour seats though.

  5. The 3-door Astra estate – the University in Aarhus has one. It potters around campus and little more. It’s fabulously well-preserved. The Astra F saw that format discontinued. It is, with a slight revision, a shooting brake.

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