The stunning hatchback was just pipped at the post for Irish Car of the Year 2023
Firstly, congratulations to Volkswagen Ireland for landing the coveted crown — they have been pipped at the post and overlooked numerous times over the last few years.
I had the pleasure of driving the all-new ID.Buzz back in August of this year at the international launch in Copenhagen and it certainly lived up to the hype that it was the modern-day version of the T2 Volkswagen van.
Don’t get me wrong — this is a breath of fresh air for the Volkswagen group and, despite its Carmite (sorry Marmite, love it or hate it) looks, it is a brilliant MPV.
However, as I am no longer a voting member of the Irish Car of the Year awards and, without upsetting any of my fellow motor writers, I feel that it was a strange choice for the overall winner.
Yes it would have been in my top three motors that I have driven this year, however, in my mind, the overall winner should be a family-affordable motor that is in the €25k-€35k price range — which the ID.Buzz is clearly not at a starting price of just north of €65k.
If the rumours on the motoring grapevine are true, the ID.Buzz won by a single vote over the all-new Opel Astra, which was definitely one of the best cars I have driven this year.
Honestly, before the Astra’s arrival earlier this year I would have never given it a second thought.
In my mind I believed old-school saloon/hatchback family cars had been laid to rust as more and more buyers switch to SUVs/MPVs these days.
Take, for instance, the much-loved Ford Fiesta, which was recently put out to pasture by the car giant, who want to focus on electrification of its newer models.
But it seems like there is life in the old dog yet and the new Opel Astra ticks all the boxes as an affordable family car that has withstood the test of time.
For those too young to remember, the Opel Astra was the replacement/renamed version of the Opel Kadett, which was originally launched back in 1960.
The first edition of the new Astra arrived on our shores in 1991, making this new 2022 version the sixth generation.
Opel obviously still see a big future for family hatchback cars that have sadly been left on the sidelines in an industry dominated by SUVs and Crossovers.
And, as Ryan Tubridy would say on the Late Late Show, there is one for everyone in the audience.
Because not only is the Astra on offer with a solid little 1.2-litre petrol engine — there’s a plug-in hybrid model too with a claimed range of 65km and a full-electric model either on its way or in the pipeline.
There’s a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel on offer too, but I can’t imagine many customers opting for this model in this ever-changing world.
On the outside, the new Opel Astra is very pleasing on the eye.
There is no doubt that the stylish Opel Manta of yesteryear was a massive influence when it comes to its design.
The inside has also been given a total revamp and the all-new Astra features the latest safety equipment and technology.
However, one little quibble I did have was that the central cup holders were fitted too close to the manual gearstick in my test model — they were clearly designed for an automatic model.