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Frankfurt show: Opel outs next Astra

Five alive: Opel has revealed its next-gen five-door Astra and a Holden-badged version is not out of the question.

Practical five-door Holden Astra could join local sporty three-door range


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2 Jun 2015

AFTER a series of leaked images, Opel has officially unveiled the vehicle that could replace the Holden Cruze when the locally made small hatch and sedan range comes to the end of the line in 2017.

With more European-sourced vehicles promised by Holden in the coming years, the all-new Astra is a likely candidate and would sit comfortably alongside its sportier three-door sibling that launched in April.

Holden has not ruled out the five-door version for the expanding local line-up, but while the sportier GTC, GTC Sport and VXR have performed well since their April launch, a five-door version is expected to attract more attention.

Unveiled overnight, the all-new version will make its first official public appearance at the Frankfurt motor show in September, showing off its slick evolved looks, a range of more efficient EcoTec engines and a dramatic weight loss of up to 200kg over the outgoing version.

In addition to its mechanical and aesthetic developments, the new Astra has also resisted the typical trend of evolving models, actually shrinking its outside dimensions instead of growing.

The new version is almost 50mm shorter in length, height is down by 26mm and the wheelbase is 20mm shorter, but despite the miniaturisation, its interior is more spacious, with rear legroom boosted by 35mm, while skinnier seats have freed up room for all occupants.

In Europe the new Astra will be offered with an Opel badge and a choice of turbocharged diesel or petrol engines, ranging from 70kW for the 1.6-litre diesel up to 147kW for the petrol of the same capacity.

Mid-range versions consist of a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder or a 1.4-litre EcoTec four-cylinder with 107kW and 250Nm, which Opel describes as the “highlight” of the range. With all-aluminium construction, the 1.4-litre has dropped 10kg over the previous iron block.

Under the bonnets of Australian three-door Astras, the Holden version gets a choice of 1.6-litre turbo four-pot or monstrous 206kW/400Nm 2.0-litre for the VXR.

The General Motors-owned brand says the significant weight loss is a result of a completely new architecture that has allowed the body-shell to shed 20 per cent of its mass, from 357kg to 280kg.

In the most extreme case, the Astra has dropped 200kg but all versions have been subject to a “fitness program” with a minimum of 120kg stripped out. Opel says the reduced mass has improved ride, agility, road-holding and driving enjoyment.

Its new styling is not a dramatic departure from the outgoing model and takes the recognisable Astra look but adds a more aggressive stance, not unlike the current three-door.

Opel describes its aesthetics as “sculptural artistry meets German precision,” and a more “athletic” approach was applied instead of making the Astra too “muscular”.

The most notable change to its styling is the divided C-pillar which allows the side windows to continue uninterrupted through to the rear window, creating “the impression of a floating roof”.

Aesthetic updates continue through to the cabin and the restyled interior is complemented by more comfortable seating for all occupants and a selection of new information and entertainment features as well as more driver assistance equipment.

The driver's seat is adjustable in 18 ways and both front seats are available with heating, cooling, adjustable width and massage function, while second row occupants get heaters too, depending on the variant.

Opel OnStar allows manual connection to emergency assistance or if an airbag deploys and also has the option of acting as a WiFi mobile hotspot for up to seven devices including tablets and smartphones.

The IntelliLink system extends smartphone connectivity allowing all phone functions to be accessed through the (up to) 8.0-inch touchscreen and is compatible with both Google and Apple-based systems.

IntelliLink is an evolution of the MyLink system that is currently featured in many Holden vehicles and supports applications including WhatsApp, Skype, Spotify and podcast players.

On the outside, the new Astra gains full IntelliLux LED-matrix adaptive headlights which use an array of 16 high-intensity LEDs to angle away from oncoming or leading vehicles, and aim into dark spots when turning corners.

The LED lights are brighter than more conventional incandescent or gas-discharge tubes, have a greater service life, remove the necessity of moving parts and incorporate automatic on and off function.

Safety features are further enhanced by a range of driver assistance systems including traffic sign recognition, lane keep and departure warning, forward-collision warning and braking, parking assistance, blind-spot monitoring and a reversing camera.

The Frankfurt motor show opens its doors from September 17.

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