What is it?
Ahead of its market launch late in 2009 we’ve had the chance to drive several iterations of the next-generation Vauxhall/Opel Astra.
We’ve tried a version that was production fit, with a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and on standard suspension, a spec that’ll be known as SE in the UK. A sportier set-up will also be available for SRi models, which use this engine.
What’s it like?
The new Astra’s design is, as you'd expect, heavily influenced by Vauxhall's winner of the Car of the Year award, the Insignia, which signalled a new styling direction for the brand.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the new Astra's interior, which takes strong hints from the larger car; there's the same steering wheel, very similar dials and major switchgear and, most significantly, a vastly improved driving position.
The previous Astra's relatively high and cramped seating position has gone; the new model's is widely adjustable and seems offset-free, though the seats could use more lateral support. Perceived quality is generally good too, and storage space is impressive. The A-pillar is unhelpfully wide, though, blemishing otherwise sound visibility.