Vauxhall's new Astra cabrio has been spied in testing ahead of it reaching UK showrooms in 2012.
The firm recently confirmed plans to ditch a retractable metal roof for its forthcoming Astra convertible, and revert to the traditional electric “ragtop” principle it used successfully on previous models.
A sketch of the new drop-top Astra issued by Vauxhall’s British design boss, Mark Adams, showed a luxurious-looking bright-metal surround for the perimeter of what appeared to be a pure four-seat cabin layout.
The convertible has the same wheelbase and underpinnings as the saloon, but appears to have an extended rear overhang, allowing space both for a bin to contain the retracted roof and a good-sized, unfettered boot space.
Vauxhall is already selling five-door hatchback and (British-made) estate versions of its new Astra, and recently took the wraps off showroom-ready editions of its racy GTC three-door, on sale in British showrooms by November.
A metal-roof TwinTop convertible has been part of Vauxhall’s range since the mid-2000s, but sales have been slow. GM Europe engineers believe the materials and know-how needed for efficient fabric roofs have improved sufficiently to overcome the twin traditional bugbears, noise at the motorway cruise and long-term durability.
Compared with a TwinTop the new convertible will be lighter, simpler and cheaper to manufacture, but Mark Adams’ designers are understood to be especially pleased that the need to accommodate a metal roof no longer compromises the rear lines of an Astra model that is supposed to sell on its beauty.