Manufacturers are liberal with superlatives when launching a new car. Very often, one hears that the model in question is the finest, most accomplished iteration of its type yet produced. We are told of great ambitions to dethrone segment leaders, blitz the sales charts and change perceptions. Opel’s parent company General Motors appears hopeful that the new Astra will shake up the hatchback C-segment. And, looking at the specifications of the newcomer, those hopes do not appear to be too far-fetched…
When the current Opel Astra was launched it was billed by many as the closest thing to the Golf, then in its sixth generation. As you know, the ambit has moved on considerably since – Volkswagen has upped its game considerably, plus there are equally venerable rivals like the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and even the polished new 308 from Peugeot. These alternatives make the outgoing Astra look and feel dated. Opel seems determined to claw its way back.
The new architecture of the next generation model is purportedly 200 kilograms lighter than that of the outgoing derivative. According to Opel boss Karl-Thomas Neumann, the car is more fun to drive than ever before. Further, the brand’s latest generation of engines and transmissions have garnered plaudits in models like the Adam and 2015 Corsa. The Astra will have an entirely new engine range, with outputs ranging from 70kW to 147kW – including diesel- and petrol-fuelled units on offer.
According to Opel’s spokesmen, the jewel in the range (until the OPC arrives, presumably) is the new, all-aluminium 1.4 ECOTEC engine. The turbocharged mill produces 107kW and 250Nm and is said to incorporate a block that weighs a full 10 kilograms less than that of the current 1.4 Turbo unit. Inspiration for the styling was derived from Opel’s Monza Concept – described as a marriage of sculptural artistry and German precision – and, from the pictures, it is undoubtedly striking.
The model is five centimetres shorter than the outgoing car with a roofline that is 2.6 centimetres lower. However, Opel’s spokesmen say the truncated dimensions have not compromised interior space. They claim an extra 35 millimetres of legroom for rear seat passengers. The fascia looks to boast less clutter, with the marque’s IntelliLink infotainment system dominating. The system has been designed for easy integration with both Apple and Android smartphones. A host of driver assistance systems also debuts; including a lane keep assistant, lane departure warning, blind spot alert and even a traffic sign assistant. Opel will also offer seats with massage and ventilation functions – even rear passengers will be able to have heated seats.
According to General Motors South Africa, the next Astra is likely to land here in 2016, though no details relating to pricing or local specifications have been confirmed.