Automotive Intelligence - the web for automotive professionals and car enthusiasts
May 13, 2009
Elegant proportions give it a strong, cab-forward silhouette, with a steeply-raked windshield and falling rear roofline, adding visual excitement to the traditional hatchback format. The brand’s new design language – sculptural artistry combined with German precision – is now seen in a different way.
“The design themes introduced in the Insignia, like the wing and the blade, have been given a fresh interpretation in the Astra, because it’s important that each Opel model has its own personality,” says Mark Adams, Vice President of Design, General Motors Europe. “This is why you see double wings in each of the rear lights and a dynamic inverted blade on the flank that visually connects to the powerful movement of the rear window and C-pillar.”
The interior uses the same wing and blade design cues as the exterior, creating harmony inside and out. A special effort, too, has been made to add multiple flexible storage solutions.
Developed in Rüsselsheim, Germany, the Opel Astra also comes with an all-new chassis. Its longer wheelbase combines with wider tracks and a new rear axle construction to further enhance agility and stability with no compromise to comfort.
The Opel Astra’s chassis has been developed as a mechatronic system that fully integrates mechanical functions and electronic controls. Like the Insignia, it can come with the clever Opel FlexRide electronic driving system, a rarity in this class, which offers the driver three settings – standard, Sport and Tour – while being fully and continuously adaptive to changes in driving style and cornering speed.
Other innovative technical features introduced to the compact class by the new Astra: A new generation of bi-xenon Advanced Forward Lighting (AFL+) that changes its intensity and reach to suit prevailing drive and road conditions using nine different lighting functions. The Opel Eye front camera system, which recognizes road signs and warns the driver when the car inadvertently departs from its lane. Ergonomic front seats, developed for optimal back support and safety. The powertrain line-up focuses on efficient performance and features eight Euro 5 compliant engines. All except the lowest powered units are equipped with six-speed transmissions. One new compact automatic gear box with Active Select function, for a clutch-free selection, will debut.
The CDTI turbo diesel line-up includes four common-rail, multiple injection units from 1.3 to 2.0 liter with outputs ranging from 70 kW/95 hp to 118 kW/160 hp. All are equipped with a Diesel Particulate Filter. An ecoFLEX version with particularly low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions will naturally be part of the program.
The four gasoline engines with 1.4 and 1.6 liter give a power bandwidth from 74 kW/100 hp to 132 kW/180 hp. A new, downsized 103 kW/140 hp 1.4 Turbo replaces the current naturally-aspirated 1.8. Thanks to exceptional high-tech features in this displacement range, the 1.4 Turbo develops 14 percent more torque yet maintains sensibly lower fuel consumption.
Grounded in the compact class tradition Opel initiated in 1936 with the first Kadett, the Astra has consistently made the top-three list of Europe’s best-selling compacts – a segment which accounts for 27 percent of the total car market. Astra sales make up a third of all Opel/Vauxhall purchases, for an average volume of nearly 500,000 units per year.
(May 13, 2009)