Things are a little better up front, where we find driver and passenger seats approved by the Aktion Gesunder Rucken, or German Bad Back Association. They are truly, properly comfortable, and even long journeys fail to induce numb-bum, nor thigh-tremble. It does go a bit downhill from there though. The fascia and instrument panel are pulled, more or less directly, from the Corsa hatch, which means everything’s reasonably well made, but a bit dour and glum in appearance. That contrasts sharply to the quirkier, more welcoming interiors of the Crossland’s French cousins. There are good things – the seven-inch IntelliLink touchscreen is clear and good to use, albeit it has a slightly messy menu system, but the main dials look drab, and items such as the column stalks actually feel quite fragile and cheap.
By 1970, the Kadett’s brief stay in the US import car rank number two was over, having been muscled aside by Toyota’s hot new redesigned Corolla (CC here). The Corolla was very much a car in the Kadett’s formula: traditional rwd and conventional in every respect. But the combination of a high D-Mark, and Toyota’s hot momentum changed the tide forever. In the US, the Corolla would soon enough depose VW out of the top slot. In Germany, the Beetles rapid crash and the Kadett’s success forced VW’s hand with the very advanced Golf, recouping the gold. The Kadett/Astra were the perennial number two in germany, but some years ago, it dropped further down the the top seller list, as smaller cars, including Opel’s Corsa have become more popular. But the Golf still sits on the throne.
Unfortunately, Audi took things a step too far in 1990, when it unleashed an unlikely super weapon. A massive 4.8 meter limousine powered by a V8 created from two Golf GTi 16V engines: the V8 quattro DTM. Helped by 450-500 horsepower and quattro four wheel drive traction, the huge brute took the 1990 and 1991 championships by storm, embarrassing BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the process. When the company took the liberty of fitting a modified flatplane crankshaft in 1992, the jig was up.
The Kadett A (above) finally appeared in 1962, and was a classic GM/Opel effort: highly pragmatic, conventional in every respect, reasonably stylish for its time, and designed to deliver a good bang for the buck. In just about every way possible, it was the antithesis of the VW: front-engine rwd, a rather tinny but roomy body, highly tossable but with a primitive suspension and ride, a very roomy trunk, and excellent visibility as well as economy. Oh, and a proper heater even! Its little 987 cc OHV four made 40 net/46 gross hp, six more than the VW 1200. Its trim fighting weight of 1475 lbs (670 kg), some two hundred pounds less than the VW, showed in both its acceleration and body integrity.