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Opel Astra sedan not for Oz

Suited and booted: Opel claims the Astra sedan is the best proportioned and most stylish car in its segment.

Insignia to fly four-door flag for Opel Down Under as Astra sedan emerges in Europe

Opel logo7 Jun 2012

OPEL has released images and information of a sedan version of its Astra small car ahead of its world debut at the Moscow Auto Salon in August, but its chances for Australian release when the brand is launched here in September are slim.

Although the Opel-derived Holden TS Astra sedan proved popular when sold here between 2000 and 2004, Opel Australia head of marketing and public relations Michelle Lang told GoAuto that the larger Insignia will fly the German brand’s four-door flag Down Under.

“For the sedan segment we are focussed on Insignia,” she said.

“We really think that will do the job there, so for us, at least for the moment, hatch and Tourer (wagon) is what we are focusing on in the small segment.”

Representing the fourth body variant of the Astra after the hatch, wagon and GTC coupe, order books for the sedan will open this month in select European markets.

Opel expects strong demand in Central and Eastern European markets, as well as some Western European countries including Germany and Spain.

Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke said the Astra sedan plays a key role in the brand’s growth strategy and its position as a more affordable alternative to larger sedans will provide “significant conquest potential in Western Europe”.

The Astra sedan’s Moscow premiere is in recognition of the fact that 60 per cent of all European sedan sales take place in Russia, which is expected to become Europe’s top market in 2014 and where sedans account for more than half of all small-car sales.

52 center imageFrom top: Buick Excelle Opel Astra sedan.

Mr Stracke said the sedan will “play a leading role in substantially increasing our market share in key growth markets such as Russia and Turkey, where there is strong customer demand for compact cars with a separate luggage compartment”.

Riding on the same 2685mm wheelbase as the five-door hatch, the Astra sedan is 239mm longer at 4658mm, and has a 34mm lower roofline at 1476mm.

It provides 90 litres more boot space at 460 litres, which can be expanded to 1010 litres with the split rear bench folded down.

Apart from the front and rear bumpers and lights, the Astra sedan closely resembles the Buick Excelle GT that debuted in China two years ago, and is produced by Shanghai GM, a joint venture between General Motors and SAIC.

Opel vice-president of design Mark Adams described the Astra sedan’s design as “sculptural artistry meeting German precision in a very dynamic fashion” and said he believes it is the “best proportioned and most stylish notchback currently available in the compact segment”.

The next-generation Astra will begin production in 2015, theoretically giving the sedan a limited shelf life.

However, Opel tends to continue selling previous-generation Astras for developing markets under the name Astra Classic.

Providing sales growth in the expanding Russian market could provide a key cornerstone in loss-making Opel’s turnaround plan, which aims to reduce the cost of building cars, expand alliances beyond GM’s recent tie-up with PSA Peugeot Citroen, and potentially running factories closer to capacity by building Chevrolets.

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