Vauxhall has issued the first pictures of the new Vauxhall Astra which is due to go into production later this year at the Ellesmere Port factory in Cheshire. Its debut (under the Opel badge) will be at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
What we know so far is that the seventh generation Astra will be an average 130 kg lighter than the Astra that it replaces and it will also defy the usual ‘new car spread’ by actually being smaller than the outgoing model. However, Vauxhall promise that it will actually have more interior space within these more compact dimensions.
The weight reduction, which is as much as 200 kg for some models, results from a new lightweight vehicle architecture along with work on powertrains and technology. Vauxhall say that every component was checked for compact design and lightweight materials with the bodyshell weight reduced by 20%. Chassis-related weight reduction amounts to 50 kg through the use of high-strength, low-weight steels and compact subframes.
This weight reduction should pay dividends in terms of fuel efficiency, responses and handling.
Vauxhall also say there will be a new engine line-up, most notably a 1.4-litre petrol engine with a 145PS power output. This engine is from the same family as the one-litre three-cylinder engine seen in the Vauxhall Corsa, Adam and Viva.
Vauxhall say the design of the new Astra was inspired by the 2013 Monza Concept car and the design team was led by British designer Mark Adams. The aim has been to make the new car look lighter, more athletic and more agile.
Vauxhall say better packaging means that, despite a 5 cm reduction in total length and 2 cm shorter wheelbase, the new car will have an additional 3.5 cm of legroom.
On the technology front, the new Astra is the first new Vauxhall that will be available, from launch, with the personal connectivity and service assistant ‘OnStar’. If an airbag deploys, OnStar will automatically be alerted and an advisor will contact the vehicle to see if help is required. If there is no response, emergency services will be alerted and given the exact location of the vehicle. OnStar will also provide roadside assistance and also acts as a wi-fi hotspot, connecting up to seven devices.
A new generation of Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system will work with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Among the other technology options will be LED matrix lights which automatically adapt the light pattern to avoid dazzling other drivers. Having driven other cars with adaptive lights, I have seen how such systems can dramatically improve vision in situations like dark motorways where your lights continue to illuminate your half of the road, as if on main beam, while blanking out any glare for oncoming traffic.
More than 2.9 million Astras have been sold in the UK over the last 36 years, with 50,000 last year alone.