The Opel Astra did well enough to earn four stars but there is scope to improve its side-impact protection. In this part of the test a rear door on the struck side came open and so the Astra would not have passed new regulations governing models launched after October 1998. It performed well in the front impact, providing unusually good protection for the driver’s legs. The child restraints were of an Opel design which Protection for pedestrians was poor, earning only a single star.
The car’s structure remained stable and the driver’s airbag proved effective. The driver’s knees were well protected and the footwell kept his feet from harm. The impact caused little intrusion into that area and the pedals partly came away from their pivots to limit the risk of feet and ankle injuries.
The driver’s head and chest were well protected but his abdomen and pelvis were exposed to increased injury risks. The manufacturer has told Euro NCAP that it will modify the Astra’s structure to address the problem.
A passenger airbag is standard so there is a real danger of death for any child in a rear-facing child restraint in the front. We believe that Opel should take this risk more seriously and provide better permanent warnings. The fixings for the one-and-a-half-year-old’s rearward-facing restraint were not fully compatible with the car’s rear belts, even though it was an Opel- branded item. An optional fixing system (Opelfix) overcame the problem. Unusually this seat also used a top tether to control its movement. Both restraints stopped their occupants from hitting the car’s interior in the frontal impact. However, the three-year-old’s head was not fully protected in the side impact.
The Astra’s front is very stiff and unforgiving and more than half of the places where a pedestrian’s head might strike following a crash were likely to cause injury. This area requires major improvement.