General Motors has taken the wraps off the new Astra — slated for production later this year, despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of Opel and Vauxhall.
The sixth-generation Astra is all-new, and shares nothing with the current model; the platform is new and the engine line-up has been lifted from the Insignia and Corsa range.
The first car to be launched at the Frankfurt motor show was the five-door hatch. Joining the five-door next year will be an estate, followed by the distinctive three-door Sport Hatch model with its coupé-like styling, although we won’t see that car until 2011. The VXR, which will be based on the three-door, won’t come until 2011, either.
Like the current model, the three-door’s styling is very different from that of the five-door. Wider rear wings, a lower roofline and a different front-end design with larger intakes will set the three-door apart, and the blade design in the car’s flanks has been reversed to sit behind the front wings, in the style of the Insignia.
One model will not be replaced, at least immediately. There won’t be a new Twin Top coupé-cabriolet model; instead, GM will continue to make the current car well into the new Astra’s life cycle.
The new Astra is, inevitably, larger than the current model, mainly because of more stringent crash legislation. At 4400mm long, it has grown by 110mm, but the wheelbase has also increased by 71mm to 2685mm, which improves leg room for the occupants.
Underneath is General Motors’ new Delta platform, launched earlier this year in the Chevrolet Cruze and due to form the basis for another four cars. But the Astra does not have multi-link rear suspension, as had been rumoured. Instead, there’s a reworked version of the Astra’s clever torsion beam set-up, originally engineered by Lotus.