Vauxhall has released full details of the new Astra, which has now gone on sale in the UK.
A range of eight engines and five trim levels will be offered on the five-door Astra available at launch. The five-door model will be exclusively built at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, with deliveries of the first cars to customers expected in December.
Vauxhall design boss Mark Adams previously told Autocar at the Frankfurt motor show that the car's key rival would be the VW Golf. "But the Astra is more dynamic and emotional than the Golf," he says. "It's more youthful and fashionable too."
The entry-level 1.4-litre 85bhp Exclusiv Astra costs £15,675, £270 more than the outgoing base model. The top-of-the-range 158bhp 2.0 CDTi Elite Auto costs £23,695.
Vauxhall claims there is an average drop in CO2 emissions across the range compared to the outgoing one by 13.3 per cent.
Diesel models are expected to make up half of sales and they range from a 1.7-litre producing 108bhp, to a 158bhp 2.0-litre unit. Mated to a manual ‘box, the diesel Astra never emits more than 129g/km of CO2.
An ecoFLEX model will arrive in spring 2010, which will be equipped with a 1.3-litre CDTi engine with CO2 emissions of 109g/km.
Of the five petrol engines in the range, one is all new – the 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged unit. This will replace the 1.8-litre unit and is part of Vauxhall’s plans to downsize to lower emissions engines without any loss of power.
To improve the handling and boost interior space, the new Astra’s front and rear tracks have been increased by 56mm and 70mm respectively, while its wheelbase has been increased by 71mm.
Vauxhall’s engineers have taken a novel approach to the traditional torsion beam rear end by using a Watt’s linkage, which helps to increase the overall stiffness of the suspension and improves the handling.
That means the big mounting bushes that connect the beam to the car are softer and more compliant than usual. This has the added effect of cutting noise and increasing comfort.
Following on from the Insignia, Vauxhall has also added a range of new technological features to the new Astra. Its Advanced Forward Lighting system is an option, which adjusts the lighting to suit the road conditions.
A six-way adjustable driver’s seat is available on all trim levels, while a FlexFloor system features in the boot to increase its loading capacity. An optional Flex-Fix system is available at the rear, which pulls out of the bumper to provide storage for two bikes.
Andy Gilson, Vauxhall’s marketing director, said: “As with the Insignia, the Astra is an all-new car, continuing the transformation of the Vauxhall product range which started five years ago with the launch of the Mk 5 model.
“Also like the Insignia, the Astra aims to attract a new group of buyers, those who may never have considered a Vauxhall before, but now see cars like the new Astra as offering all the style and quality of a premium product, such as an Audi A3, but at a far more affordable price point.”