Opel unveils lighter, more efficient Astra
Introduced in 1991, the Opel Astra has been around for 10 generations, but itscompetition has never been stronger. From the solid Volkswagen Golf to Ford’srecently restyled Focus, the market for hatchback buyers is stacked withquality offerings. It’s not surprising, then, that Opel has throwneverything at the latest version of its hatchback, which is lighter and more efficient than thecar it replaces.
Central to the appeal of the new Astra is its serious weightloss. Thanks to a bodyshell that is 20 percent lighter and the use ofultra-high strength steel in the chassis, the new Astra is between 120 and 200kg (220 and 441 lb) lighter than the car it replaces. The new car’s exterior is also smallerthan that of its predecessor, although Opel’s engineers claim that despitelosing 5 cm (1.9 in) in length and 2.6 cm (1 in) in height, the new Astra is biggerinside, with rear passengers enjoying an extra 35 mm (1.4 in) of legroom.
Under the hood Opel is offering a range of compactturbocharged petrol engines, ranging from the entry-level 77 kW (105 hp)1.0-liter four cylinder ECOTEC motor to the range-topping all-aluminum1.4-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 lowin the rev range, providing strong performance regardless of what gear thedriver is in.
For those who prefer diesel power, the Astra will beavailable 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 newAstra will offer more tech. Inside, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have beenintegrated into Opel’s IntelliLink infotainment system, offering drivers accessto smartphone functions through the dash-mounted touchscreen. The car will also parkitself, while lane departure warning and lane keeping assist are designed tokeep distracted drivers on the straight and narrow. There’s even auto emergencybraking if a rear-end collision is imminent.
Headlining the tech on the new Astra, however, is Opel’sIntelliLux LED matrix headlamps. Made up of 16 LED units, the headlamps work intandem with the Opel Eye camera on the front of the car to mold the beamaround oncoming traffic. The system switches on as soon as the driver leaves abuilt up area, and allows drivers to experience high-beam brightness withoutdazzling 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 oldcar. Slimmer, wider taillights and the car’s heavily sculpted rear decklidaccentuate its width, while the rear window now continues through the C-pillarto create the illusion of a floating roof. The upshot of the 11th-generation’s sleeker styling is that the dragcoefficient 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.