For a car that was Europe’s Car of the Year in 2016 and SA’s in 2017, it’s difficult to explain why local sales of the Opel Astra trickle along at a lacklustre 20 to 30 units a month – way behind rivals like the VW Golf, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla hatch. Perhaps buyers don’t set great store in car awards, or they see Opel as less of a safe bet since General Motors quit the country and the brand was taken over by independent importer Unitrans. Either way, it was pleasant to catch up with a car that I first road tested in 2016 and predicted back then that it was a strong car of the year contender.

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