Rüsselsheim, Germany - Who would ever imagine how much fuss it's possible to make over a car seat?
We all know the new Opel Astra will make its world debut at the Frankfurt motor show on 17 September - because Opel has been highlighting various aspects of the design in teaser promos for months.
This time it's the front seats. Certified by the German AGR (Campaign for Healthier Backs), an independent association of doctors and experts dedicated to preventing back problems, Opel's ergonomic seats offer no less than 18 adjustments, including side bolster adjustment, and are also available with massage and memory function, as well as ventilation.
The seats are actually among the largest, heaviest and most expensive components in a car, accounting for about 10 percent of the production cost. In order to create an extra 35mm of rear-seat legroom, Opel designers used lighter polyurethane foams on specially shaped high-strength steel frames - which also shaved about 10kg off the weight of each seat.
BIGGER RANGE OF ADJUSTMENT
The seats are also mounted lower in the car to give tall drivers more headroom - but that could cause problems for smaller than average drivers, so the driver's seat has 65mm of vertical adjustment, more than any previous Astra.The base model offers four-way electropneumatic lumbar adjustment - forwards, backwards, up and down - variable seat tilt, and seat length adjustment. The premium ergonomic seats also have power- adjustable side bolsters to support the ribcage.
In summer, the seats' breathable upholstery and perforated polyurethane foam wick away moisture with the help of small fans; in winter, integrated seat heating keeps backs 'n bottoms toasty warm. And for longer journeys, the massage function keeps you free of aches and pains.
But there is a catch - there's always a catch. The AGR-approved seats are not standard issue. They're an optional extra, starting at €390 (R5260) each. The good news however, is that they will also be made available in due course for the Insignia, Meriva, Zafira, Mokka and Cascada.