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Old 22nd May 2010, 14:03   #1
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Default OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review

We bought a second hand Opel Astra club 1.6L MPFI from a dealer in karol bagh, New Delhi in the year 2003. The car had 14000 km on its meter. My father bought this car on the recommendation of my younger brother-- my father always takes my younger brother advice when it comes to buying cars-- who had gone through other sedans of that year like Mitsubishi Lancer, Hyundai Accent ,Suzuki Baleno. But, it was this car they choose to buy from the rest , for reasons galore, like the interior of Opel Astra was a class above the rest, the build quality is still quite robust, the sunroof , the novelty they had associated with it being a GM product and perhaps, something special and it being different than the predominant Suzuki cars which everyone used to buy, including us. At the time of writing this piece my brother told me that they had bought the second hand Black Opel Astra Club for 6 lakh. At that time , we used to have a 1985 bought maruti Suzuki 800, a 1995 bought maruti Suzuki Esteem , and a 1999 bought tata indica( worst car we ever bought!) . After the purchase of the Opel Astra , my father intended to dispose off our old work horse maruti Suzuki 800. Subsequently ,he sold off maruti Suzuki 800 with a heavy heart especially when considering the tender memories associated with that car, to this day he’s quite nostalgic about that 800.
Coming back to Opel astra, initially my father drove that car interspersed with infrequent driving stints by my younger brother. One hadn’t learnt driving until year 2007 , so one couldn’t get hands on it until year 2008, the year when my father entrusted the car to me. The Opel astra suited my father’s style of driving : being patient , never utilizing the higher power band of this car, cruising in a gear, etc. Almost all of his driving remained confined within the city itself, and one really can’t recollect the time he took the car on the highway.

One would now, set forth in adequate detail the experience one had driving this car from year 2008 onwards. The car had 60034 km on its meter when one got hold of its keys. I was glad that my father bought the new Honda accord , since it brought me the opportunity of driving Opel Astra without any opposition from anyone. Unlike my father , one would willingly take it on the highway as well as within the city. The first thing one realized , was that in summer’s with AC on, the car’s temperature would hover around 100 ‘C , and was apprised before hand that there was nothing to worry about , since it was usual in this car. One has driven it from the 60 thousand km on its meter up till 1 lakh 10 thousand km, and during the course of my driving it , one came to realize many things about it . The positives and negatives:-

(-) The Opel astra clutch pedal has quite a return force during its release , and that the more it being employed for gear change, the more return force. It took me some time to realize the best way of driving a car with its tall gearing . But, one realized later on that this car abhorred driven in bumper-to-bumper situation. Since, in that situation even though one may not require to change from gear one, yet, the continuous pushing and releasing the clutch pedal would not only increase the return force but the clutch would gradually become hard to press--one would blame oneself for it, since riding on clutch would bring about this situation. It is no wonder , that one had to take the car after every 15k km to our preferred mechanic , who would do some adjustment to it--the clutch.

(+) Credit must be due to the makers of this car, for its solid build quality. One can assure you about its solid build, that it has taken a lot of highway beating under my tutelage(!).And yet, there is not even an iota of clatter or rattle within the car, whether one consider the dash board, the doors, et cetera. Its quite a revelation that the interior and exterior are intact even after bearing the brunt of uneven Indian roads , interspersed with varying depths of pot holes. True, the soft suspension absorbed the undulations for better or for worse.

(-) The Opel astra club suspension is a bit on the soft side, may be pertinent to this luxury sedan. And to those who are uninitiated , and are not careful while driving this car over pot holes or speed breakers may end up having delivered some damage to its suspension. One had been told before hand to be careful while driving this car over speed breakers and potholes, nevertheless, odd mistakes are committed. One careless mistake ,I made some time back , while driving early morning on my way from New Delhi to Chandigarh. On the approach road to NH-1, one inadvertently drove the left front tire over a pot hole and by the time one realized the presence of the pot hole ahead, it was too late, there was a loud ‘thud’ and immediately the steering wheel tightened and gradually became difficult to turn. One pulled over the car on the side, to realize that the tire was deflated and had worn out because one didn’t stop when the mistake was made, it was only when the steering becoming difficult to rotate that one pulled over , by that time one had driven the car for some kilometers and thus the wear and tear of the tire. Fortunately, for me there was not much damage neither to the rim of the tire nor to the suspension. One changed the tire, and the first thing one did when arriving at Chandigarh was to buy a new tire. A lesson well learnt that day: That to be cautious over pot holes.

(+) The steering wheel on the other hand is quite responsive, a bit heavy but one likes the heavy feel of this car steering wheel. There are no undulations on the steering wheel affording the driver to hold each finger of hand between it, allowing firm grip. Without undulations , its quite fine though. Yet, the car kept under direct sunlight for prolonged time would set the steering wheel too hot to handle.

(-) There’s a peculiar problem associated with our car -- one doesn’t know whether other Opel Astra owner’s too have experienced it or not-- that of the fuel pump. From the day we bought this car, to this day ,after every 20 to 25000 km fuel pump issues creep up, and then we have to replace the fuel pump. The indication we get ,that the time for fuel pump replacement is coming, is a noise originating under the rear seats. The noise gradually increases to a point when there are jolts when car is accelerated. To us its an indication for fuel pump replacement, which we do get it replaced. Now it could be that , someone had inadvertently fueled up this car from a pump station that may have been selling adulterated fuel. But, from the day one got hold of this car keys, one doesn’t remember ever fuelling it up from pump station that may be selling adulterated fuel. The preferred mechanic told us that don’t drive this car on reserve fuel. So, we did abstain from ever reaching a situation in which we were driving it on reserve fuel, and yet the problem persists. Thrice we have replaced the fuel pump, only the first one was new the rest two were second hand , since, we couldn’t get our hands on new ones thanks to parts scarcity.

(+) The attempts that car manufacturer’s make to obtain a fine balance between the ride and handling of the cars is splendid indeed. In this car though, the balance tilts in the favor of ride. Resultantly, this allows comfort for the occupants for whom most of all undulations of the road surface are absorbed by the shock absorber’s of this car. Yet, there are ones that can be felt in the car cabin and thus to the occupants -- in a gradual and subtle manner , not like harsh jolts-- if the car is harshly driven over eroded roads, potholes etc.

(-) The spare parts of this car are in scarcity , and the ones that we searched for in the open market, most of them were salvage parts. If one were to look for spare parts from the authorized service centers of GM , one may find some parts , not all ,but the fact is most of the spare parts that the Authorized service centers have are exorbitantly priced. Thus, to maintain this car or the proverbial ‘White elephant’ especially from authorized service centers requires deep pocket.

(-) The car has a perennial issue with its camber, that allows it to slightly pull on one side even though wheel alignment and balancing are done in an attempt to rectify it.

Fuel Efficiency : There is nothing much to brag about the fuel efficiency of this car, in the city it gives 8 to 9 km per liter and on the highway 11-12 km per liter of petrol.

Maintenance : The period between the day the car was bought by my father --14000 km on the meter-- till the day one got hold of the car keys--60034 km on meter, the car was maintained by our preferred mechanic and my younger brother’s friend : Mr. Balraj(He did wonders with the worst car we ever bought : the oldest Tata indica, he proved his credentials well!) . After 60,000 km , the car required parts for which we searched in open market, but couldn’t find genuine ones. So the car went to the Authorized service center: Regent automobiles, Okhla ,for parts replacement and along with the replacement of parts the car got serviced over there. One would like to state beforehand, that the spare parts cost that one may quote below were those replaced from authorized service center , unless, specified otherwise. Since, my younger brother never bothered to keep record of the car maintenance before 60,000 km when it was serviced by our preferred mechanic : Mr Balraj.
However, there were times when one voluntarily went to Mr Balraj for some problem. Simply because one believes that its much better to take ones car to a preferred mechanic especially when the car problem is difficult and requires lot of time, perspicacity. The authorized service center are good only for car servicing , part replacement and for applying car detailing products on car, cumbersome jobs that require a lot of time should be kept for preferred mechanic.

The last service at authorized service center was at 100724 km, after that it went for another service around 105000 km but with our preferred mechanic because there were other jobs to be done on the car.

Usual car service at Authorized service center costs(in Rupees):
Description:-
Filter Interior Ventilation: 419 /-; Fuel filter: 976 /-; Element Air Cleaner: 495 /-;
Opel motor Oil 3.75 : 646 /-; Spark Plugs replaced at that time: 4x87.11=348.44 /-
Paid service charges = 625 /-;

One had 2 prominent problems during the car journey after 60000 km, one related to the ignition system other heating problem. To rectify both, required parts to be replaced from Authorized service center.

Around 67000 km , it was realized that one of the cylinders wasn’t getting charged,the spark plug was o.k., but it couldn’t consistently generate the spark because of the faulty high tension wire.. The high tension wire that runs from the ignition coil to the spark plug at cylinder 3 was at fault. It needed to be replaced.

Description:-
Wire ASM-IGN Coil no3: 928.89 /-; Repair labour :400/-;

Then, later on the need for ignition coil replacement arose:

Description:- Coil ASM-Ignition: 13565/-;

Around 91200 km, the radiator fan stopped working , was replaced.
Description:- Fan and motor ASSY RAD : 5501 /-;
Fuse 5 AMP: 2x18.67= 37.34 /-; Fuse 40 AMP: 94 /-;
Labour Job: Radiator Flushing: 700/-; Radiator fan replaced: 480/-;

Later the radiator too was replaced.
Description:- radiator: 6728 /-; Elf Opel Coolant: 853/-;
Labour Job: Radiator and coolant replaced: 300/-;

At 1 lakh km service, the need for timing belt replacement arose:
Description:- Belt -TMG: 1302/-; Roller bearing: 4160/-;
Pulley ASM-DRIV V,Belt: 1006/-; Belt-GEN: 1258/-;
Cover timing belt FRT upper: 415/-;
Labour cost for timing belt replaced: 800/-;

At ASC(Authorized service center) periodic maintenance (interval 5000 km) :
Sometimes, Engine de-carbonize , Engine flushing, injector cleaning was done. At every service period, Interior dry-cleaning , PU Coating was done.

Other than the work done at ASC, the car during its course of maintenance went to our preferred mechanic Mr Balraj. The car had its clutch replaced twice, has gone through suspension O/H twice. Around 102000 km, it was found by our preferred mechanic that oil and coolant were getting mixed in the engine head!. Thus, Engine Head was replaced with head gasket set. Well, most of the parts bought in this case--when the car being with our preferred mechanic -- the parts bought were from open market. Most of the time they were not new, seem to me they were salvage or second hand parts. Since, parts availability is a bit difficult, and one did went to ASC for parts, but even they didn’t had it at that time. So, we had no option but to seek parts from the open market.

The last Job done on the car , at the time of writing this piece is complete bodywork of the car followed by repaint of outer body, including bumpers, rim and a new battery was installed. The cost of this Job would be around 30,000 and is done by our preferred mechanic.

Accessories : A Pioneer CD player and Pioneer Amp that runs 4-Polk speakers. A Polk base tube was added with the setup. But, later it didn’t work as well . So, the base-tube was disconnected.
The head lamps and fog lamps of this car have Bosch HID. All tires except one, are Michelin 185/70 R14.

Finally, one would state that even though the upkeep of this car is a bit expensive and that there are perennial issues associated it with. Yet, inspite of its flaws one likes driving this car. Since, one’s driving style is quite similar to my father within city, and doesn’t like the ‘accelerate-de accelerate and brake’ style of driving. The car suits my purpose very well. It’s a bit expensive to maintain but we don’t intent to sell this car anyways. The car is luxurious , ride is good, AC works fine ,build quality is robust, interior‘s are good , etc. I’ve driven this car on my way to Shimla and Manali, and the highway experience of this car is very good ,such a planted feel of the car, as if it‘s leaving a footprint behind. Even though, on the hill drives its better to stick to one gear whether 2nd or 3rd to make the drive , smooth. So, for me at least its not a bad deal and is worth keeping. Looking back at year 2003, What more one could’ve asked for a German engineered car at 6 lakh price?
Attached Thumbnails
OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01629_mod.jpg  

OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01633_mod.jpg  

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Old 22nd May 2010, 14:12   #2
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That is one Looooooooong Term report.

Very meticulously written
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Old 22nd May 2010, 14:20   #3
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More photos:
i must add, that the car is due for service within next 500 km. More photos may follow, of the car with HID on.
Attached Thumbnails
OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01634_mod.jpg  

OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01632_mod.jpg  

OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01631_mod.jpg  

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Old 22nd May 2010, 20:25   #4
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this is one car i truly love.

even we had an astra club, bought in 2001 & sold in 2008 due to heavy maintainence. but it was a gem. keeping maintainence costs aside, ask me to choose between a honda city or a lancer or an astra, the opel will win easily. only those who have driven the astra will know the reason, others will continue cribbing!

there are some cars which truly appeal to your heart, this is one among them. talk about luxury, features, comfort... this car had all.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 20:40   #5
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Now that's one pristine Astra Club. Such a rare sight on the capital's roads. I hope to catch yours someday. Very comprehensive review. Never knew so much about the car.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 20:46   #6
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I always loved the Club. It looked fantastic with that colour, those special alloys and all the gizmos inside. Do photograph your car after the next service so we can see it clean and shining
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Old 23rd May 2010, 06:42   #7
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Quote:
raj_5004: ask me to choose between a honda city or a lancer or an astra, the opel will win easily.
Couldn't agree, more. As a matter of fact, if someone were to bring a 3rd person who knows nothing about what goes under the car, and only knows how to drive and if he is shown these 3 cars, as you mentioned.Without even going for test drive, the very first thing that'll set his liking for the opel astra will be its interiors.

Quote:
McLaren Rulez : Do photograph your car after the next service so we can see it clean and shining
After the next service, i'll post the photos and give a brief description of the work done.

More photos, of the car this time at night. First, two photos have camera Flash On, last one has camera flash:off. Last two, with head lamps and fog lamps, HID on.
Attached Thumbnails
OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01638_mod.jpg  

OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01636_mod.jpg  

OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01639_mod.jpg  


Last edited by Technocrat : 10th December 2011 at 02:32.
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Old 23rd May 2010, 08:00   #8
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Nice write up. And this is a smart looking car indeed. Are you contemplating shifting this to CNG?
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Old 23rd May 2010, 21:10   #9
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Quote:
typeOnegative: Are you contemplating shifting this to CNG?
Not in the least. One has a presentiment, that installing CNG kit into it or using CNG fuel would gradually take the life out of this Astra engine. We wouldn't want that to happen. We are fain to run it on petrol.
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Old 23rd May 2010, 22:43   #10
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Nice ownership report,that too after a reallylong drive.
Appreciate your way of maintaining it.
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Old 24th May 2010, 09:56   #11
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Sorry for using your car's image buddy. and sorry for the poor work in MS paint.

special things in an astra's interiors-

OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01638_mod.jpg

1- leather wrapped steering & gear lever
2- multi info display which had a stopwatch, average fuel consumption, instantaneous fuel consumption, distance to empty meter, average speed, outside temperature, etc.
3- cooled glovebox
4- damped release ashtray
5- engaging the astra in reverse was something very unique!

apart from this, the cabin was full of lights! there were 3 cabin lights! the glovebox, the boot, the astray & even the cigarette lighter had lights.

the build quality of the cabin is not visible in pics!



coming to the exteriors-

OPEL ASTRA club, 1.1 lakh km, long review-dsc01632_mod.jpg

1- bonnet scoop
2- alloys
3- two tone paint
4- leather seats
5- arm rest (i know these are about interiors, still!)
6- electronic sunroof

apart from these, small conveniences like one touch operation for all windows with anti-pinch, a cossetting ride, low NVH... it was truly a german car. i know many of the above features are a norm today but we are talking about 2001 when none of these features were available even in cars costing 15-20 lakhs!

the astra failed only because GM willingly abandoned it.
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Old 24th May 2010, 10:32   #12
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Nice write up Rite(sh)!!
Very wonderfully written ownership review. The car has been maintained very well.Kudos, to you, your dad and brother for buying and maintaining the car for so long.
Also thanks to raj for explaining the features in the Club.Had seen this car on road many a times and always liked the look of this car, but never bothered to check it's feature.
Now I know.
Thanks to you and raj.
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Old 24th May 2010, 17:25   #13
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Quote:
raj_5004: Sorry for using your car's image buddy. and sorry for the poor work in MS paint.

special things in an astra's interiors-

1- leather wrapped steering & gear lever
2- multi info display which had a stopwatch, average fuel consumption, instantaneous fuel consumption, distance to empty meter, average speed, outside temperature, etc.
3- cooled glovebox
4- damped release ashtray
5- engaging the astra in reverse was something very unique!
..................
There is absolutely, no need for you to be sorry. On the contrary, one needs to be thankfull to you for taking interest in this long term review, and elucidating the interiors of the car. Which, one forgot to highlight--the interiors. Thanks, for your effort.

One thing , i forgot to specify, that if one looks at the side of the car, especially the line that separates the two tone color. There is supposed to be a outer door beading running along that line. Now, one asked my preferred mechanic, about it. He told me, that a new one could not be procured. Thus, at present the car is without it. Perhaps, when the car goes for its periodic service at ASC, they might be having it!

Last edited by Technocrat : 10th December 2011 at 02:32.
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Old 24th May 2010, 18:03   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ritedhawan View Post
One thing , i forgot to specify, that if one looks at the side of the car, especially the line that separates the two tone color. There is supposed to be a outer door beading running along that line. Now, one asked my preferred mechanic, about it. He told me, that a new one could not be procured. Thus, at present the car is without it. Perhaps, when the car goes for its periodic service at ASC, they might be having it!
i was about to ask you about it. but i thought you must have lost it in a shunt or something & everyone knows opel's spares are as rare as opels!
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Old 25th May 2010, 14:23   #15
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I had, and still do, a soft spot for the Opel Astra. Didn't think too much of the original engine (forever to revv), but the updated unit sitting under the hood of your car is far better. Pure European build quality, the first truly premium interiors in a <10 lakh car and beautiful ride & handling. Most people credit the Octavia as being the first affordable premium European car in our market; no ways, its the Astra. Driving one at 150 kph back then was a lesson in high-speed stability (especially since my daily driver was an Esteem).

Excellent report. I really enjoyed reading this one. Thanks for sharing, and do drive safe.
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