After the five-door hatchback is before the station wagon. With the Opel Astra, the wait makes sense because the backpack version is the better car. And that’s not just because of the loading volume.

You can buy a lot for 1,1000 euros. A week in a wellness hotel, a European flight in business class or a six centimeter longer wheelbase and 164 liters more trunk volume. As you may have guessed, this is about the difference between a classic five-door compact car and a station wagon. Strictly speaking, the Astra and the Astra Sports Tourer. At Opel, they are particularly proud of having made the station wagon socially acceptable back in 1953 with the Olympia Rekord carAvan and ten years later with the Kadett carAvan.

It is almost already specified in the employment contract with the Rüsselsheim car manufacturer that the eleventh generation of the compact car will also have a version with an extended loading compartment. Especially since Opel assumes that two-thirds of the Astras sold will be Sports Tourers. The only question is why the station wagon is coming so late. Since the Golf 8 is weakening, you could actually shake the throne of the class leader. One reason could be the Stellantis group raison d’être, which wants to give the Peugeot 308 SW a head start. However, internal research has shown that the respective brands are strongest in their home countries.

We like the Sports Tourer at first sight. Even if the car is identical to the hatchback variant up to the B-pillar, details such as the accentuated cheeks on the rear fenders and the higher number plate make a small but subtle difference. And of course the aforementioned wheelbase, which not only stretches the silhouette of the vehicle, but also enlarges the luggage compartment. However, the practical compartment under the loading floor is largely omitted in the plug-in hybrid, since parts of the electrical module and the charging cable can be found there. That’s why the trunk volume in the part-time electric vehicle is 516 liters, which is 81 liters less than in the models without electric drive support. If you fold down the backrests of the rear seat, the capacity increases to 1,553 liters (also minus 81 liters) and the loading floor rises slightly. Opel describes the Sports Tourer as the loading master, but the Skoda Combi (640 to 1,700 liters) lacks a few cubic meters. In the plug-in hybrid, the Astra wins the duel with upright rear seat backrests. Since the Czech station wagon creates only 490 liters and with the rear seat backs folded down with 1,555 liters only slightly more than the Opel. Practical details such as the loading floor, which can be locked at a 45-degree angle, show that they are keeping a close eye on Mladá Boleslav in Rüsselsheim. However, with the PHEV variant, the loading roller blind cannot be stowed in the compartment under the loading floor. There is always a place for the charging cable.

Whilst we’re on the subject. Charging with electricity is a weakness of the Opel Astra PHEV, because it is only possible with a maximum of 7.4 kW, which in turn can only be achieved at a 22 kW charging station. As soon as both requirements are met, the 12.4 kWh battery is fully charged in around two hours, or around seven hours and five minutes when plugged into a household socket. But it’s worth doing. Because as long as the 81 kW / 110 hp electric motor is being supplied with energy, it leaps to the side of the 110 kW / 150 hp four-cylinder engine and the Astra Sports Tourer is fast and relaxed on the road. Up to 135 km/h it can even be done purely electrically. Above all, the quiet in the interior is pleasant. A consequence of the drag coefficient of 0.276. Left to its own devices or when things suddenly need to move faster, the petrol engine audibly vents its displeasure. When the forces interact, the country road speed is reached after 7.7 seconds and at 225 km/h the electronics thwart the propulsion plan.

Opel specifies a maximum electric range of 60 kilometers, with us 48 kilometers flashed in the display. The long wheelbase makes driving the Sports Tourer pleasant, and the expertise of the Opel engineers means that the 1,717-kilogram Rüsselsheim station wagon is more agile around corners than its French sister company. The Astra cannot hide a tendency to understeer, and the steering could also be a bit more narrative. Opel states consumption as 1.2 l/100 km. We came up with 4.5 l/100 km.

When it comes to infotainment, the Astra has taken a clear step forward, even if communication with the language assistant via “Hey Opel” is still a bit far from Siri or Alexa. You can integrate your smartphone via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The iPad generation will also be impressed by the fact that two devices can be operated in parallel. Otherwise, you get along well with the tiles and the menus behind them. You know that from the hatchback model. Nevertheless, the carAvan is the better Astra.