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New Opel Astra: The First Class Compact

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RÜSSELSHEIM, GERMANY – September 29, 2009: With its sporty, good looks, comfortable driving experience, innovative technology and a full fuel efficient powertrain line-up, the new Opel Astra, which debuted in Frankfurt at the IAA as a five-door hatchback, is set to energize Europe’s compact car segment.

Grounded in the tradition Opel initiated in 1936 with the first Kadett, the Astra has consistently made the top-three list of Europe’s best-selling compacts for decades – a segment which accounts for 27 percent of the total car market. Astra sales make up a third of all Opel/Vauxhall purchases, for an average volume of nearly 500,000 units per year.

The new Astra brings many comfort and safety features to the compact class from the upper segment – most were introduced by the Insignia to the midsize class. Exceptional technologies like an all-new mechatronic chassis, the most advanced lighting system, a front camera that recognizes traffic signs and seats with the best ergonomics will be available.

“The new Astra raises the standard in the compact class with exciting design, dynamic driving and great practical features. It shows that we at Opel build automobiles that speak to one’s emotion and are loaded with German engineering excellence,” says Alain Visser, Vice President Sales, Marketing & Aftersales Opel/Vauxhall.

Opel’s new design language reinterpreted for the compact class
The new Opel Astra brings into the compact class its own interpretation of the brand’s award-winning design language of combining “sculptural artistry with German precision” first seen in the Insignia. Its strong coupé-like silhouette and elegant details give the car a fresh sporty look. Elegant proportions provide a strong, cab-forward silhouette, with a steeply-raked windshield and falling rear roofline, adding visual excitement to the traditional hatchback format.

“It’s important that each Opel model has its own, strong personality. This is why the design cues introduced in the Insignia, like the wing and the blade, which energize the shapes, have been given a fresh interpretation in the Astra,” says Mark Adams, Vice President of Design, General Motors Europe.

The flank of the Astra receives a dynamic inverted blade that visually connects to the powerful movement of the rear window and the C-pillar. In the back end, double wing-shapes in each of the rear lights make it immediately recognizable.

The interior echoes the flowing forms of the bodywork: sweeping lines, curvaceous shapes and the quality of the execution are all part of Opel’s design language. A signature design cue is the wraparound wing shape of the instrument panel that arcs into the top of the door moldings. The effect is a warm embrace of the occupants, providing a welcoming ambience that is enhanced at night by a red diffused light that illuminates the base of the center stack and the front door panels.

New mechatronic chassis system with Watt’s link in rear axle
Driving dynamics and stability are improved by a wheelbase that is 71 mm longer, for a total of 2685 mm. The new Astra has a 1544 mm wide front and 1588 mm wide rear and the tracks are increased by 56 mm and 70 mm respectively. This gives the car a wider footprint, contributing to more stable handling and an inherently better road-holding capability. The core body structure stiffness is improved by 43 percent in torsion and 10 percent in bending to provide a firm base for optimizing the new Astra’s handling and ride capabilities. Increased stiffness also benefits comfort, as it reduces noise and vibrations inside the cabin.

The Opel Astra’s chassis has been developed as a mechatronic system that fully integrates mechanical functions and electronic controls. The new Astra retains the dynamic, fun-to-drive character of the previous model, with significant improvements in steering response and ride comfort.

While the chassis has the proven McPherson strut layout at the front, Opel engineers in Rüsselsheim are the first in the world to combine a compound crank with a Watt’s link in the rear axle. This new construction keeps the advantages in size, weight and overall efficiency of the compound crank rear axle layout design, At the same time, the Watt’s link supports lateral forces during cornering and makes the car dynamic and agile without compromising on stability and comfort.

Like the Insignia, the new Astra can come with the clever Opel FlexRide electronic driving system, a rarity in this class. The FlexRide adaptive suspension system continuously adapts to changes in driving style and cornering speed. In addition, it offers a choice of three settings – Standard, Sport and Tour – and additional personalization.

Line-up of super efficient engines reduces emissions by 12 percent
The new Astra will launch with a complete line-up of eight engines ranging from 70 kW/95 hp to 132 kW/180 hp and will provide drivers with affordable, real-life efficiency.

The Astra’s line-up of powertrains with manual transmission provides impressive performance and overall cuts CO2 emissions by more than 12 percent compared with the current generation. The average fuel consumption of the diesel engines is 4.6 l/100 km and only 6.1 l/100 km for the gasoline line-up.

The four diesel engines, which are expected to power almost half of the new Astra cars sold in Europe at launch, deliver 70 kW/95 hp to 118 kW/160 hp. With the manual transmission, they all consume under 5.0 l/100 km and do not emit more than 129 g/km CO2. When it launches early next spring, the ecoFLEX version with the 70 kW/95 hp 1.3 CDTI engine will have fuel consumption of only 4.2 liter/100 km and emit only 109 g/km of CO2.

The gasoline range comprises naturally-aspirated and turbocharged 1.4 and 1.6-liter engines, giving a power bandwidth from 74 kW/100 hp to 132 kW/180 hp. The entry-level version in the gasoline line-up emits only 129 g/km CO2 – the best figure for a gasoline engine in the compact segment. Continuing Opel’s strategy of downsizing, engineers replaced a 103 kW/140 hp 1.8 liter engine of the previous generation with a new 1.4 Turbo with similar output that only requires 5.9 l/100km, cutting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by nearly 18 percent.

Innovative technologies brought to the compact segment
“Opel’s mission to make high tech innovations accessible has proven to be successful in the Insignia. We’ve set ourselves an even more ambitious goal in bringing most of these features to the compact segment with the new Astra,” says Hans Demant, Managing Director of Opel.

Many of the innovative technologies introduced by the new Astra are unique to the compact class or bring a sophistication not seen before in this segment:

  • The Opel Eye recognizes road signs and warns the driver when the car inadvertently departs from its lane.
  • Ergonomic Sport Seats feature a 6-way adjustment range, the widest in the segment, a 4-way adjustment of the lumbar support and extendable seat cushion. Available at all trim levels, this driver’s seat comes with enhanced support and overall body comfort. It is the only one in the compact class to receive the much coveted seal of approval from Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V. (Action for Healthy Backs, known as AGR), an independent panel of ergonomics experts and doctors in Germany.
  • The most advanced lighting system in the compact class, a new generation of Opel bi-xenon Advanced Forward Lighting (AFL+) changes its intensity and reach to suit prevailing driving and road conditions using nine different lighting functions.