General Motors South Africa (GMSA) has introduced a number of styling and specification changes across the Opel Astra Hatch range. These revisions impact on exterior styling, interior trim, and revised technical specifications in line with local preferences. Along with these changes comes an aggressive new pricing structure that builds on an already excellent value proposition. "With the introduction of the Opel Astra for the 2013 model year we have adopted a number of external, and internal styling changes that refresh the inherent continental styling appeal of the Astra," says Malcolm Gauld, GM South Africa's Vice President Vehicles Sales Service and Marketing. "Customer expectations are a dynamic area of the market that we continually monitor to ensure that we are always able to offer an excellent value proposition. The changes to the Astra line-up reflect changing customer preferences." In the current economic climate there has been a shift away from "nice-to-have" but seldom used specification items in favour of a specification that offers a degree of cost saving without any real sacrifice in functionality or comfort. To satisfy this market requirement we have reviewed the specification versus pricing across the Astra Hatch range and together with Opel in Germany arrived at a formula that enables us to reduce the cost of the Astra and increase its competitiveness in the popular "C' segment of the passenger vehicle market. This is on top of the fact that we did not apply any price increase to the Astra during 2012 when most of its competitors saw price increases of 1% and more. External styling changes feature a revised grille with the distinctive Opel insignia now mounted, centred top to bottom, in a wing shaped chrome embellishment together with a redesigned front bumper with a more pronounced lower grille section. The new frontal styling is completed with an update for the fog lights and turn indicators. At the rear the new enhanced Astra is defined by new chrome detailing, a revised bumper design and new treatment for the license plate holder. The exterior styling package is completed with revised styling for the alloy rims across the range. Interior styling changes include the introduction of new contemporary trim materials and mouldings. First up in the range is the Astra 1.6 Essentia. This model retains its high level of specification in keeping with competitive offerings in its price range but without cruise control, rear electric windows, and curtain side airbags. The revised price of this model has reduced from R235 200 to R231 000, a reduction of 1,8%. New in the line-up is the Astra 1.4T Essentia Plus. This offers essentially the same specification level as the Astra 1.6 Essentia but includes electric windows at the rear, cruise control, and curtain side airbags. The 1,6 litre naturally aspirated engine is replaced by a 1,4 litre turbo engine. This advanced new generation engine from Opel offers best-in-segment power, torque and acceleration. This engine was designed around the philosophy of providing more for less in terms of power versus engine capacity. Maximum power is 103 kW with 200 Nm of torque available across a wide engine operating range of between 1,850 and 4,900 r/min. Maximum speed is 202 km/h with acceleration from zero to 100 km/h achievable in 9,8 seconds. Remarkably this level of performance is delivered with excellent fuel economy with just 5,9 l/100 km used in the combined cycle rating. CO2 emissions are a low 138 g/km. Add to this that there is little drop off in performance at higher altitudes compared to normally aspirated engines. Drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission. This model is offered at a very competitive R248 000 and effectively replaces the Astra 1.4T Enjoy Plus which is no longer available. In keeping with the objective of offering an excellent value proposition the Astra 1.4T Enjoy specification now includes automatic rain sensing windscreen wipers, an anti-dazzle rear-view mirror, and auto headlight control. This improved specification level is offered at R257 000. The Astra 1.6T Sport continues in the range with no specification changes but with a price reduction from R301 900 to R298 500, a saving of 1.1%. This model offers maximum power of 132 kW as the most powerful production engine in its capacity class. Maximum torque is 230 Nm. This delivers a maximum speed of 221 km/h with a zero to 100 km/h time of 8,5 seconds. Drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission. Combined cycle fuel economy is 6,8 l/100km and CO2 emissions are 159 gm/km. Major specification items: Astra 1.6 Essentia . Power mirrors, heated and in body colour . Daytime running lamps . Power front windows . Remote power door locks . Anti-lock braking system (ABS) with EBD . ESP Plus (Electronic Stability Programme) . Centre console with 2 cup holders and open storage space . Front and side airbags for driver and front passenger . Pedal release system . 17 inch alloy wheels Astra 1.4T Essentia Plus Specifications as per 1.6 Essentia but with following added: . 1,4 litre turbo engine . Electric windows at the rear . Cruise control . Curtain side airbags Astra 1.4T Enjoy Items added at this level include: . Front fog lamps . Radio CD with graphic info display . USB port and Bluetooth connectivity for radio/CD . Leather covered steering wheel . Rain sensing windscreen wipers . Anti-dazzle rear-view mirror . Auto headlight control . Seat pockets on back of front seats Astra 1.6T Sport Items at this level include: . 1,6 litre turbo engine . Sports chassis . Premium grade leather trim . Translucent instrument accent lighting . Dual-zone electronic climate control . Centre console with 2 cup holders and covered storage . Adjustable armrest (front) . Electronic parking brake . Hill Start Assist . Rear Park Assist . On-board computer . 12 volt power outlet in rear of centre console . 18 inch alloy wheels . The Opel Astra is covered by a 5 year/120 000 km warranty with Roadside Assistance for the warranty period. The Opel Astra is also covered by a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan.