Opel’s all-new Astra breaks cover

Opel has released the first official images of the all new German-engineered Opel Astra, which will premiere at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September as a dynamic five-door hatchback. It will go on sale in Ireland in the first quarter of next year.

Integrating Opel’s engineering excellence, fluid sculptural design and innovative technologies, the new Astra captures the philosophy highlighted in the Insignia.

With its strong, cab-forward silhouette, steeply-raked windscreen and sloping rear roofline, the new Astra makes ingenious use of many of the design features found in the Insignia, but in a fresh and innovative way. Also like the Insignia, it has spent over 600 hours in the wind tunnel, benefiting performance, economy and overall refinement.

“We’re continuing with the same premium design cues as the Insignia, inside and out of the car,” said Adams, Vice President of GM Europe Design. “However, the main design themes, like the wing-shaped light signatures and the blade, needed an individual execution to avoid ‘cloning’ the model ranges. This is why, for instance, you see twin wings in the rear lights and a reversed blade on its flanks”.

Underpinning the Astra’s rakish, 4.4 metre-length body, is an all-new chassis with a 71 millimetre-longer wheelbase, benefiting both passenger comfort and packaging. Wider tracks front and rear feature, as does a new rear axle design, which not only improves stability and agility, but takes the Astra’s ride comfort into a different league.

Enhancing the Astra’s dynamic performance still further is the option of Opel’s clever FlexRide system, a rarity in this sector which offers drivers three unique damper settings standard, sport and tour, while being fully adaptive to changes in driving style and cornering speed.

The new Astra’s interior follows similar strides in quality to those found in the Insignia, combined with big improvements in packaging, seat design and in-cabin storage. Mark Adams’ unique wrap-round dash treatment will also appear in the Astra, but with a different take on that found in the Insignia.

Unique in this sector will be the Astra’s optional, latest generation AFL (Adaptive Forward Lighting ), which features bi-xenon lighting that changes its intensity and reach to suit prevailing road conditions.  A similar system was introduced on the Insignia, and is now recognised as one of the most advanced systems available.

The highlight of the new Astra’s powertrain line-up is the introduction of an all-new, 140PS turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol unit, which builds on Opel’s commitment to engine downsizing and reduced emissions/fuel consumption, while retaining the performance of a larger capacity vehicle. The 1.4T joins three further petrol engines, which range from 100PS to 180PS, and four diesel engines ranging from 95PS to 160PS. All engines are Euro 5 compliant.

“This is an exciting new era for the Opel brand” said Gillian Whittall, Opel’s Marketing & PR Manager told us. “We’ve seen Insignia re-energise its segment by introducing Opel’s design language of sculptural artistry with German precision. New Astra is set to make the same impression in the compact segment and continue to raise the platform for the Opel brand in Ireland. We’re confident that it will have immense driver appeal and attract an even broader spectrum of buyers to the class.”

The new Astra, due for launch in Ireland early 2010, is the latest exciting model in a long line of successful compact Opel cars, which began with the Olympia Kadett launched in 1936. Approximately 500,000 Astras are sold in Europe each year, making it one of the most successful cars in its segment.

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