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New British-Built Vauxhall Astra Raises Quality & Value at 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show Debut

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SEE ALSO: 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show - Press Pass Coverage

FRANKFURT, GERMANY – September 15, 2009: The new Vauxhall Astra received its global debut today at the Frankfurt Motor Show with the promise of aggressive pricing, exceptional quality, and levels of equipment and technology seldom seen in the compact class.

The entry level Exclusiv 1.4i (87PS) enters the market at £15,675, a mere £270 more than the outgoing equivalent model, yet now offers as standard air conditioning, electronic stability control, 16-inch wheels and an MP3-format radio/CD player with aux-in.

Further up the range, the SRi 1.4i Turbo, with its new-to-range engine, is just £10 more than the current, un-blown SRi 1.8-litre petrol, yet retains its 140PS output, reduces CO2 emissions by 18 per cent and Benefit in Kind tax by seven bands. Equipment levels rise too, with an electronic parking brake, centre armrest and active head restraints all standard.

The lead-in diesel-powered model’s price has also barely budged. Compared with the current Life 1.7 CDTi 100PS, the new and more powerful Exclusiv 1.7 CDTi 110PS drops a VED band, thanks to a 11g/km reduction in CO2, has even more standard equipment, yet costs just £15 more at £18,015.

Helping reduce the cost of Astra ownership still further has resulted in lower insurance group ratings. For example, an Exclusiv 1.4i (100PS) drops from a 5E/10E rating for the old model to a 3E/9E for the equivalent car in the new range. Similarly, an outgoing SE 1.6-litre (115PS) slides from 7E/13E (current) to 4E/12E (new), and an SRi 1.7 CDTi (125PS) from 12E/21E (current) to 5E/15E (new).

Vauxhall dealers’ order books are now open for the new Astra, with the first cars reaching showrooms in December.

Ellesmere Port – Vauxhall’s compact car home for nearly five decades
For 46 years, Ellesmere Port has been the manufacturing home of every compact class Vauxhall sold in the UK, and is now set to become the launch factory for not only the sixth generation of Astra, but also all Opel versions sold across Europe.

The new Astra is the tenth generation of compact car to be built at Ellesmere. It opened its lines to the original Vauxhall Viva HA in 1963, and went on to produce a further two Viva models, the Chevette and then each successive Astra in five door and Astravan form.

General Motors’ plan to locate its revolutionary production facility at Ellesmere Port in 1961 was a vital shot in the arm for the economy in England’s Northwest region. Based on a 440-acre, ex-RAF station, the plant now employs 2200 people and has, in total, produced nearly 4.5 million vehicles since that first Viva HA rolled of its lines (see pic).

Today, the current Vauxhall Astra is the best-selling UK-built car in Britain, and thanks to Ellesmere Port’s ultra-modern and efficient infrastructure - which in the last 17 years has received nearly £1 billion of GM investment – it’s set to pass on this mantle to the new Astra.

No surprise, then, that Ellesmere Port has a capacity to produce 190,000 vehicles per year on a three-shift system, equating to 40 cars and vans per hour, or one Astra rolling off the line approximately every 90 seconds. With its own press, producing 60 panels per hour, 840 robots in Body, and a state-of-the-art paint shop, Ellesmere is one of the most advanced facilities in the UK, and one which is already being mooted to take on production of the Ampera, Vauxhall’s revolutionary E-Rev model set to hit UK showrooms in early 2012.

Achieving a Green Organisation 4-star status last year, Large Enterprise of the Year at the Northwest Automotive Alliance Awards and an incredible 18,670,000 days without a lost work day has galvanised Ellesmere Port’s position as one of the most successful car factories in Europe, and one which is in rude health for the future.

britain’s best-selling uk-built car is re-born and revitalised
Vauxhall’s all-new Astra is poised to raise the bar for compact cars sold in the UK, with a combination of stylish design, class-leading dynamics, ultra-efficient powertrains and upscale quality.

On sale now, and in UK showrooms from December, the new Astra will uphold Vauxhall’s tradition of offering buyers levels of innovation and technology normally found in a class above, but at a price point embedded in the value sector. New Astra prices start at £15,675 for the comprehensively equipped 1.4-litre, 87PS Exclusiv model and extend to £23,695 for the luxurious 2.0CDTi 160PS Elite automatic.

With a range of eight engines and five trim levels, the new Astra will initially be available as a five-door hatchback only, built at the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, home to all Vauxhall’s compact-class cars since it opened 46 years ago.

Ellesmere Port will be responsible from launch for manufacturing all Astras sold across Europe, but UK buyers will take the lion’s share, amounting to 25 per cent of total production. Small wonder, then, that even in its outgoing form, the Astra is Britain’s best-selling UK-built car and one that is almost always seen in the top three sales listings.

What’s more, the Lower Medium Sector, in which the Astra sits, is hugely significant in the UK, accounting for 17.7 per cent of all retail car sales. With style-conscious buyers choosing Vauxhall more and more, the Astra has a large part to play in this continued success, along with its continued appeal to buyers in the fleet market.

“As with the Insignia, the Astra is an all-new car, continuing the transformation of the Vauxhall product range which started five years ago with the launch of the Mk 5 model,” said Andy Gilson, Vauxhall’s Marketing Director. “Also like the Insignia, the Astra aims to attract a new group of buyers, those who may never have considered a Vauxhall before, but now see cars like the new Astra as offering all the style and quality of a premium product, such as an Audi A3, but at a far more affordable price point. “

SEE ALSO: 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show - Press Pass Coverage