By: Dave Abrahams
Rüsselsheim, Germany - In a swift comeback to the leaked images on an Italian website, Opel has released official pictures and details of its seventh-generation Astra.
The new Astra, which will make its world debut at the Frankfurt motor show on September 17, is built on a new lightweight platform, and will only use current engines - which may finally spell the end of the road for the maker's proven 1.4-litre naturally-aspirated unit.
The new Astra was developed from the sexy Monza concept, first shown at the 2013 Frankfurt show; depending on the model it's as much as 200kg lighter than the previous Astra (77kg of that in the bodyshell alone) smaller outside but with more interior space and comfort, says the maker. And, as is now almost obligatory in a new model, it brings down gizmotronics from higher segments, such as personal connectivity and service assistant OnStar, state-of-the art phone integration and Opel's new adaptive LED headlights.
The new Astra will be available in Europe with a choice of one turbodiesel and two petrol engines, starting with the 77kW, one-litre EcoTec direct-injection turbopetrol three.
But the highlight of the range is an all-new 1.4-litre EcoTec direct-injection turbopetrol four, for which Opel quotes 107kW, on tap from 1800-4000rpm, and 265Nm, most of which is available just off idle.
The 1.6 CDTI turbodiesel four will be offered with a range of output settings, starting at 70kW.
The new platform has a 20mm shorter wheelbase than its predecessor but, by moving the seats slightly further apart and hollowing out the backs of the front seats, Opel has created 35mm extra legroom for the rear-seat passengers.
The drivers seat will offer 18-way adjustable seats for the driver; both front seat will have a massage function, ventilation and seat-width adjustment. And, for the first time in a compact Opel,the two rear outer seat-backs will be available with optional heating.
By moving a number of infotainment functions to a big central touchscreen, the number of controls on the centre stack has been significantly reduced for a cleaner, less cluttered look.
The new Astra is the first Opel to be fitted with OnStar connectivity right from launch, bringing a range of safety and comfort services. If any of the airbags is triggered, an alarm is triggered, pinpointing exactly where the car is. A service centre operator will contact the car and if there's no reply, he'll send out Fire and Rescue.
OnStar is online 24 / 7 / 365 for roadside assistance or any other emergency help; the system also turns the new Astra into a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that'll allow up to seven devices to be connected at the same time.
Also making its first appearance in the Astra will be a new version of the IntelliLink infotainment system, compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, giving you access to Google Maps, Google Now as well as apps including WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify, and podcast players.
Apple CarPlay displays on-the-go iPhone apps on the touchscreen so you can make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music, controlled from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri.
LIGHTING THE WAY
The Astra will, of course, also be the debut vehicle for Opel's patented all-LED glare-free matrix headlights, with eight LED segments on either side, each slightly differently aimed and focused..
When the central camera detects a vehicle in front of the Astra, the system creates a 'dark spot' by switching off just the LED that would dazzle the other driver and leaving all the others on so that the rest of the road and the verges are brightly lit - without a single moving part to wear out.
More driver aids include cruise control with speed limiter, traffic sign assist, lane departure warning, following distance indication and forward collision alert with automatic braking.
Blind spot alert warns you of objects anywhere within three metres of the car - especially where you can't see them from the driver's seat. The rear-view camera is automatically switched on when you put the car into reverse, while park assist will park the car for you at the touch of a button.
GMSA tells us the new Astra is under consideration for introduction in South Africa in 2016; specs and prices will announced closer to launch.