The Opel Ascona 16S

Adam Opel these days turns out new models with perplexing frequency. I have, for instance, just been using as pleasant transportation a yellow Ascona 16S saloon, which, incidentally, had four doors in spite of a weekly contemporary's statement that it can only be had in two-door or estate-car forms.

If you read what we had to say about the Opel Manta fastback last April you will know what these new Asconas are like, because they are really saloon-bodied editions of the Manta, using the 1.6-litre version of the rough-looking but efficient engine with the clever camshaft-in-head (but not conventional overhead valve gear. The-nicely-styled Ascona is a car which shines in no one particular direction, and therefore lacks "character", but which performs well in all important respects. It corners well, restrained by a well-located back axle (three-link coil-spring suspension and a torque tube) and those Goodyear G800 tyres with that splendidly chunky tread, has light, smooth rack-and-pinion steering geared at just under four turns, lock-to-lock, and light, progressive servo disc/drum dual-circuit brakes.

There is a good, but not outstanding, floor gear-lever, some gearbox whine, a nicely-closing cubby-hole lid, plenty of room in body and self-locking boot, and one key for ignition and the other well-contrived locks.

Judging by the fuel consumption figures I obtained the mileometer is optimistic (there was no opportunity for a fifth-wheel calibration) but I would expect ordinary drivers keeping up with the main-road traffic to get better than 30 m.p.g. of 4-star, even with the "S" engine, which develops 92 (SAE) b.h.p. at 5,800 r.p.m. against 79 at 5,600 from the ordinary 1.584-c.c. engine. After 750 miles the dipstick indicated a sump still full of oil.

The Ascona is a well-finished, pleasant-to-drive, family car, a German-built Vauxhall shall we say, with quality interior in black matt, Bosch lamps and electrics, Varta battery, Duro Glas heated back window and a nicely-functioning I.h. stalk-control of lamps, wipers, washers and turn indicators. Instrumentation is simple, with just the speedometer, an equally-large clock and the TANK/TEMP. gauge facing the driver.

These new Asconas.enhance the renaissance made by Opel in recent years. The unliked aspects were confined to a rotating gear-lever knob and much reflection in screen and rear window.—W. B.