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PR

Rent-a-wreck: Astra vs Leon

The 'Ford Focus or similar' that I'd booked with Hertz for a holiday in Kefalonia turned out to be an Astra 5dr powered by what I later discovered was a 1.3 diesel. I had no problem with this, having feared that they'd try to foist some shite like a Nissan Note on me on the basis that it was an upgrade, so I gladly took the key.

My initial impressions were mixed. While there was enough room for four passengers and our suitcases, and the mature ride dealt well with the scabby roads, performance was quite simply woeful - to the extent that it wouldn't get up the hill to our villa without everyone else getting out.

It didn't really improve with only two people and no luggage aboard, often needing to be mashed into first on hills and barely managing to move its own weight in higher gears than that. Thrashing it produced only a lot of noise, nor more speed. It was on this basis that I decided this wasn't simply a slow car; it was a knackered one. There was no discernible evidence of a turbo working, so I called Hertz and told them I wanted a different car.

This was a good move as the replacement was a bright red Leon 1.2TSi. Within 100m of driving it the improvement was humongous. Where the Astra simply dragged its heels along, the Leon picked up briskly with a refined snarl from its titchy engine. It steered nicely but rode more firmly than the Opel. It was a real poverty spec special, though, with plastic steering wheel and gear lever, no fabric on the doors and a dash festooned with blank switches.

Quite an enjoyable car to drive though, and a reminder of the merits and capabilities of unpretentious front drive family hatchbacks.
Blarno

A mate of mine has an Astra 1.3 CDTi estate and it baffles me that a company would fit such an underpowered lump to such a heavy (relatively) car. It's all well and good getting under 100g/km and free road tax, but if it gets you T-boned at a junction then the benefits start to wane somewhat.
Nice Guy Eddie

When and where were you in Kefalonia? I cam back 3 weeks ago.

Great driving roads, just such a shame I was in a 1.3 Fiat Grande Punto.
Martin

Nice Guy Eddie wrote:
Great driving roads, just such a shame I was in a 1.3 Fiat Grande Punto.


Assuming that was what you booked, then you only have yourself to blame!

The Astra does sound broken.   I've been in a 1.6 tdci Focus that struggled to get out of its own way, but we didn't have to get out and push!   The way some of these cars are set up for getting the best emissions results make them feel sluggish and generally pretty poor to drive.  The 165hp engine in the Cascada felt more like 100hp most of the time.
Nice Guy Eddie

When hiring a car in Greece:

First rule - never get a nice one
Second Rule - Get damage waiver
Third rule - Make it  a petrol so you can thrash the living crap out of it.
PR

Nice Guy Eddie wrote:
When and where were you in Kefalonia? I cam back 3 weeks ago.


Small world! I was there from Tuesday last week to Tuesday this week, in Katelios. Whereabouts were you?

There were some nice roads, as well as some that were barely more advanced than goat tracks. If we hadn't gone with the in-laws (and therefore needed a car of Astra size) I'd quite have fancied a current shape Panda.
Nice Guy Eddie

I've stayed in katelios a few years ago. I really liked it, we went with James villas. This year we had a villa for one week in svronata and then a week in Sami.

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