The Frankfurt motor show will see a duo of folding hardtop debuts, as Vauxhall unveils its open Astra at the same show as Volvo's new C70. Tagged Astra TwinTop, the new coupé-cabrio will be one of a trio of new Vauxhalls on display, joining the 255bhp Vectra VXRand the long-awaited replacement for the Frontera 4x4.
The Astra TwinTop follows rivals such as Megane CC and Peugeot 307 CC in ditching the fabric hood in exchange for a folding hard-top, a route also being explored by VW and Ford with forthcoming cabrio versions of the Golf and Focus.
Arriving in the UK next spring, the TwinTop will be launched with a choice of four engines, 105bhp 1.6-, 138bhp 1.8- and 198bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol variants, and the 148bhp 1.9-litre diesel. Based on the longer of the Astra’s two wheelbases also used by the Zafira and Astra Estate, the TwinTop should offer at least as good rear seat accommodation as anything in the class. Boot space comes in at 440 litres with the roof up, 220 with it down, which is best in class roof-down, and level with the Megane CC at its maximum.
Unlike the Tigra's roof, which was designed and built by French firm Heuliez, the Astra's roof has been developed by Porsche-owned CTS and unlike its established rival’s systems, folds into three pieces, which helps the sleek styling by remove the need for the steeply sloped A-pillar and long rear deck that handicap the Megane and 307 CC’s appearance.
Although prices won’t be firmed up until nearer the spring ’06 launch, Vauxhall will need to match its closest rivals, which means a starting price of around £17,000 for the 1.6, rising to around £21 for the range-topping 197bhp turbo.