Introduced in 1991, the Opel Astra has been around for 10 generations, but its competition has never been stronger. From the solid Volkswagen Golf to Ford’s recently restyled Focus, the market for hatchback buyers is stacked with quality offerings. It’s not surprising, then, that Opel has thrown everything at the latest version of its hatchback, which is lighter and more efficient than the car it replaces.
Central to the appeal of the new Astra is its serious weight loss. Thanks to a bodyshell that is 20 percent lighter and the use of ultra-high strength steel in the chassis, the new Astra is between 120 and 200 kg (220 and 441 lb) lighter than the car it replaces. The new car’s exterior is also smaller than that of its predecessor, although Opel’s engineers claim that despite losing 5 cm (1.9 in) in length and 2.6 cm (1 in) in height, the new Astra is bigger inside, with rear passengers enjoying an extra 35 mm (1.4 in) of legroom.
Under the hood Opel is offering a range of compact turbocharged petrol engines, ranging from the entry-level 77 kW (105 hp) 1.0-liter four cylinder ECOTEC motor to the range-topping all-aluminum 1.4-liter ECOTEC motor putting out 107 kW (145hp) between 1,800 and 4,000 rpm. Opel also claims that the engine’s 250 Nm (184 ft lb) of torque is available from very low in the rev range, providing strong performance regardless of what gear the driver is in.
For those who prefer diesel power, the Astra will be available with a 1.6-liter CDTI in a number of different states of tune, starting with a 70 kW (95 hp) model.
As well as offering more space than its predecessor, the new Astra will offer more tech. Inside, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been integrated into Opel’s IntelliLink infotainment system, offering drivers access to smartphone functions through the dash-mounted touchscreen. The car will also park itself, while lane departure warning and lane keeping assist are designed to keep distracted drivers on the straight and narrow. There’s even auto emergency braking if a rear-end collision is imminent.
Headlining the tech on the new Astra, however, is Opel’s IntelliLux LED matrix headlamps. Made up of 16 LED units, the headlamps work in tandem with the Opel Eye camera on the front of the car to mold the beam around oncoming traffic. The system switches on as soon as the driver leaves a built up area, and allows drivers to experience high-beam brightness without dazzling other drivers.
On the styling front, the Astra’s design isn’t revolutionary – instead, the exterior is a sleeker take on the design of the old car. Slimmer, wider taillights and the car’s heavily sculpted rear decklid accentuate its width, while the rear window now continues through the C-pillar to create the illusion of a floating roof. The upshot of the 11th-generation’s sleeker styling is that the drag coefficient has dropped below 0.30, which will aid fuel efficiency and performance.
The new Astra will debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show, which runs from September 17.
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