Prices for the all-new Vauxhall Astra have been confirmed, with entry-level models starting at £15,295.
The all-new car is smaller in size, cheaper but better equipped than the model it replaces, according to Vauxhall, which has put particular emphasis on making the Astra better to drive and a more attractive fleet proposition.
The new car is built on parent company GM's D2 platform and is 49mm shorter, 26mm lower and has a 23mm shorter wheelbase than the car it replaces. Despite this, cabin space and comfort are improved. Benefitting from new materials and construction methods, the new Astra offers weight savings of between 120kg and 200kg over the current car.
Inside, the new Astra features a large touchscreen infotainment system, a multi-function steering wheel, and the same instrument cluster display already seen on the new Corsa. This infotainment system is the latest IntelliLink R 4.0, which Vauxhall says is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity systems. It is also the first all-new Vauxhall to feature the Onstar system, which offers features such as 24-hour emergency assistance, an in-car wi-fi hotspot and access to vehicle data through a smartphone app. It will also alert the emergency services if an airbag is deployed.
Vauxhall wants the new Astra to have more appeal to the fleet market, which has led to the push for more efficient engines and lower list prices, which both help reduce company car tax.
The high-level of kit should make it an attractive prospect but Vauxhall feels there is a lot more to getting fleet managers on board than piling up the standard kit.
Vauxhall's emphasis on quality rather than pushing huge numbers of cars into the market. This in turn will allow the company to protect residual values and in turn, offer more favourable lease and finance deals.
The first clues to the look of the new Astra came with the Monza concept, unveiled at the Frankfurt show in September 2013. The shaped aluminium strip running from the roof and into each tail-light cluster is echoed in the final car, whose dark C-pillar trim is designed to give the car the look of having a floating roof panel.
There will be seven trim levels at launch in September, but even the most basic Design cars come with 16in alloy wheels, air-con, DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control as standard.
Fleet-focused Tech Line models add a larger touchscreen with sat-nav and a leather steering wheel for a £775 premium. Energy models are geared more towards consumers and get heated seats and steering wheel and 17in alloys, but no sat-nav. Prices start at £17,295.
SRi models are £970 cheaper than the previous generation equivalent, starting at £17,895. It is the cheapest model to get the OnStar 24hr emergency assistance system, wi-fi hotspot capabilities and smartphone app. It also gets a front camera system, sports seating, leather steering wheel and front foglights. A SRi Nav version adds the 8.0in touchscreen navigation system.
The top of the range Elite model pricing starts from £19,315 and offers a full-leather interior with 18-way adjustable front seats, folding mirrors and electronic climate control. It also has rear heated seats and an extra pair of USB sockets in the back. Again, a Nav version is available.
The new Astra gets all-new engine and transmission families for the new model, many of which have been seen in the recently launched Corsa.
The entry level unit is a 99bhp 1.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol unit which emits 124g/km, but the most interesting small engine option will be a new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine. Good for 104bhp and 124lb ft of torque from well below 2000rpm, a version of the engine is already offered in both the Adam and the new Corsa.
The 1.4-litre turbo option Autocar has already driven provides 148bhp and 175lb ft and is estimated to return up to 55mpg with CO2 emissions of around 128g/km. A lower output 1.4-litre turbo rated at 124bhp will also be offered. The top petrol engine is a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine producing 197bhp which will be avaialble from January 2016.
The 1.6-litre diesel models offer the greenest options. Both the 109bhp and 135bhp versions are available with automatic and manual gearbox options. The Ecoflex version emits just 82g/km and has a claimed economy figure of 91mpg. A higher output biturbo diesel will be offered in early 2016 on SRi and Elite trims only.
Just as important to the Astra is a new six-speed manual gearbox. In 2013, when GM announced the new 1.6-litre diesel engine, the company admitted that its real weak point was manual gearboxes, partly because the basic design principle dated from the 1970s. The new transmission is said to weigh just 37kg and puts an emphasis on smooth shifts and a short lever action.
The new Astra made its public debut at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show and will be in showrooms ahead of its October launch. It will be built at the company’s plant at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, UK.
As well as a five-door hatchback, a new Sports Tourer estate car will join the range in early 2016.
The Astra GTC will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future because it is far earlier in its life cycle than the hatch and estate.
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