Opel makes a new case for estates with Astra Sports Tourer
In detail: Astra Sports Tourer
We've never really embraced estate cars in this country. Certainly not in comparison to our neighbours in the UK, or in European markets like Germany and the Netherlands where estates outsell their saloon or hatchback equivalents.
Nonetheless, there exists a steady market for these load-friendly models. Statistics for the last 10 years or so show estates have consistently achieved between 6-9pc of the overall market year on year.
In comparison, the percentage of sales attributed to hatchbacks and saloons has declined significantly. As recently as six years ago hatchbacks accounted for over 56pc of all new car sales. Last year they represented 34pc and that figure has fallen again this year.
Similarly, saloons now account for around 25pc of all sales compared to 31pc four years ago.
Which suggests that buyers flocking to crossovers and SUVs are coming from hatchbacks and saloons rather than estates.
With increased practicality cited as one of the key reasons for opting for a crossover, it's maybe a little surprising there hasn't been more of a demand for estates.
Cars such as Opel's new Astra Sports Tourer are to the vanguard of the latest generation of estates that can match or better the load-carrying capabilities of a crossover - with the ride and handling prowess of a hatchback.
On paper at least there's a lot to like about the Sports Tourer - and given its similar underpinnings to the hatchback there is every reason to expect this to be an excellent drive. Its five door hatchback sibling was recently voted European Car of the Year for 2016.
Opel also has some form with compact estates. It was the first German manufacturer to produce one (in 1953), while the first direct predecessor to the Astra Sports Tourer, the Kadett Caravan, appeared 10 years later. Of the 24 million Kadetts and Astras sold since, 5.4 million have been estates.
Now in its tenth generation, notable features of the new Astra Sports Tourer include a significant weight saving (around 190kg). It's also more spacious, with extra head and rear-seat room, and there's an extra 80 litres of load space in the back - you can now cram in up to 1,630 litres of luggage.
Naturally, the headline features of the Astra hatchback - such as OnStar, Opel's personal connectivity and service assistant, and the latest-generation infotainment and driver assistant systems - are also offered. The electric tailgate opens and closes via a kicking motion under the rear bumper. With prices ranging from €21,195 up to €32,195, there will be four trim levels when it goes on sale here next month. Petrols include the excellent 105PS 1.0 Turbo, the 100PS 1.4, and 150PS 1.4i Turbo. Diesels include 110PS and 136PS versions of the 1.6 CDTi; the new 1.6 BiTurbo CDTI with 160PS won't be sold here, for now anyway.
The Sports Tourer will certainly appeal to traditional estate buyers, though tempting customers from crossovers will be a bigger challenge.