New Opel Astras SA-bound by year-end
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General motors SA has confirmed that the face-lifted 2013-model Astra hatch - officially announced in Europe on Friday - will be released in South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2012.
You'll probably have to look twice to spot it, but the new front treatment is actually distinctly more hard-edged than the previous model, with a bigger Opel 'flash' logo in the centre of a chromed bar, sculpted as a very shallow V, across the middle of the grille.
The front indicators are new, as is the bumper, dominated by a much bigger lower air intake than previously, with provision for LED daytime running lights on more up-specced variants.
The number-plate recess in the tailgate has been 're-sculpted', there's a new chromed strip across the bumper, and a range of sexy new alloy rims.
The cabin has been refreshed with a range of new fabrics, new colours and glossy trim elements - but the big news is that the new Astra will also be available with a raft of electronic driver aids, most of which were first seen on the Zafira minivan.
These include a second-generation camera with enhanced traffic sign assistance (we kid you not, the new Astra can read, unlike some drivers we know), lane departure warning, fore and aft traffic sensors, a rear-view camera and blind-spot warning.
GMSA wouldn't be drawn on which models will be coming to South Africa, but the European range will start with the existing 103kW, 1.4-litre turbopetrol four, now with a new overboost function that boosts peak torque 10 percent, from 200 to 220Nm, for a few seconds.
Then there's an all-new two-litre twin-turbo CDTI diesel, rated at 143kW and 400Nm, which will be available in both five-door hatch and three-door GTC format, for which Opel quotes 0-100 in 7.8 seconds and 224km/h flat out, on only 5.3 litres/100km.
The GTC Biturbo also get the kit to match the kick - special 18” rims, body kit, 6mm lower ride height and the 'Track' interior trim package with electronic auto aircon and a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel.
But the big daddy of the Astra family is still the GTC OPC, with its 205kW, two-litre turbopetrol taking it to 100km/h in six seconds flat and on to 250km/h.