I was invited as a blogger to the media launch of the Opel Astra at Kyalami racetrack yesterday. It was the very first time I got to drive around the track – I was slightly nervous on the 1st lap – as I had no idea how sharp the corners were, etc, but by the second lap I drove ‘properly’ as in responsibly.

We were given a history of Opel – how their factory was destroyed during the Second World War, and how they made a comeback. We were shown various models from the different generations, with a little dancing sketch from each era. It was very interesting and entertaining.  After the formalities, we had lunch – which we ate very fast, so we could get into the cars and go for a “spin” around the track.

I initially had concerns, silly things like, what if I don’t adjust to the clutch or what if I switch off, etc but luckily, none of that happened. I didn’t go out and choose the best car in the range, I just picked the closest one to me. Which happened to be the 1.6 Turbo Sport – this one:

Of course we had to follow a certain set of rules. Like no over taking and keeping a safe following distance of about 5 cars, amongst others.

I was impressed with the drive of the car, it felt very smooth and the concerns I had were soon forgotten once I took off! I was slightly cautious around the bends, but drove what I would say, ‘more freely’ on the second lap since I was more familiar with the track.

The entry level 1.4 litre starts at around R218,000 and the top of the range 1.6 litre turbo sport is about R280,000. More info can be found on the Opel Astra website.

General Motors sent me to their Chevrolet Spark launch in July this year and I have to say, this one was much better! Thanks GM.