2015 Opel / Vauxhall Astra uncovered

2015 Vauxhall Astra

Brit-built Astra uncovered. Pictures of the seventh generation Astra have been revealed by Vauxhall, 36 years after the first medium-sized hatchback made an appearance. And like all previous incarnations of the Astra, it will be built here in the UK at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory on Merseyside.

The latest Astra will make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September, but Diesel Car got a sneak preview of the car’s attributes at an exclusive briefing. Lighter, more fuel efficient, and most importantly cheaper than the model it replaces, Vauxhall is gunning for its deadly rivals, the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

From launch, there will be a choice of two 1.6-litre ‘Whisper’ CDTi engines developing 109 and 134bhp paired to manual gearboxes, with automatic variants offered from the beginning and mated to the 134bhp 1.6-litre CDTi unit. These engines will be joined by an 82g/km ecoFLEX edition and 158bhp BiTurbo edition in January. At the same time, the cargo-carrying Sports Tourer estate will go on sale, although photographs of that model haven’t yet been released. A 99g/km 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is also available from launch, with a robotised manual Easytronic edition with CO2 emissions of 96g/km offered alongside.

Although instantly recognisable as an Astra, the design has taken some of its styling cues from the 2013 concept car, the Monza, which was created by English designer Mark Adams. The trademark blade on the side links the newcomer to other models in the Vauxhall line-up, while the divided C-pillar was created to give the impression of a floating roof. And while the dimensions on the outside may be smaller, space inside has been maximised, with the latest Astra five centimetres shorter than its predecessor in length, two centimetres less in the wheelbase and 2.6 centimetres lower, but rear seat passengers actually enjoy 3.5 centimetres of extra legroom.

The Astra will become the first Vauxhall to feature the company’s OnStar system. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the concierge service is always available to help in the event of an accident situation when the airbags have deployed and emergency services are required. There’s also the option of on-board WiFi, with the opportunity to connect seven devices all at the same time – handy for keeping the children quiet in the back. A new generation IntelliLink system is offered, too, integrating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time. Smartphone users can pair their devices and in turn mirroring the display on the central touchscreen.

The model range has been slimmed down to five trim levels compared to its predecessor, with a choice of Design, Tech Line, Energy, SRi and Elite versions. There’s also the option of satellite navigation equipped ‘Nav’ editions of the SRi and Elite models to add further choice. Diesel prices start at £16,995 for the 109bhp Design 1.6 CDTi and rise to £23,520 for the 134bhp Elite Nav 1.6 CDTi automatic. Tax-free petrol editions begin at £15,995 for the 103bhp Design 1.0i Turbo ecoFLEX. The car is comprehensively equipped compared to its predecessor, with all versions featuring a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB digital radio and Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, air conditioning, LED daytime running lights, electric windows all round and 16-inch alloy wheels. Key optional extras include LED matrix headlights, as previous seen on Audi’s A8, autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, and an automated parking system.

The latest Astra is on sale now and arrives at dealers in October. Further engine options and a more capacious Sports Tourer estate joins the range in January next year, though there’s no word yet on a replacement for the sporty three-door edition, the GTC. Vauxhall says that the GTC will be produced for some time, having been launched a while after the rest of the last generation Astra range.

Although instantly recognisable as an Astra, the design has taken some of its styling cues from the 2013 concept car, the Monza, which was created by English designer Mark Adams.

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