Vauxhall have finally responded to the threat posed by the facelifted Ford Focus with the news that the new Astra is now on sale, with the first cars arriving in Vauxhall showrooms this October.
Vauxhall are justifiably proud of the impact of the Astra on the British public reminding us that almost three million have been sold in the UK over the last 36 years, including 50,000 in the last 12 months. More than 25 per cent of British motorists have either owned or driven an Astra, so reaction to a new model will always be felt across the market, indeed @MotorMartin had a fine G-Reg 1.6 Astra L many, many years ago and it was a reliable, if not exactly exciting, means of travelling across the country.
The Astra is an important release for Vauxhall as it is based on their all-new lightweight vehicle architecture with it’s new design, powertrains and technology. There was even better news for British manufacturing as it was also confirmed that the new Astra is to be built at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant in Cheshire and that it will be the lead plant for the new model.
Weight reduction has clearly been one of the starting points when Vauxhall began redesigning the Astra as depending on the model and trim level the new Astra is up to 200kg lighter than its predecessor with the new vehicle architecture playing a major role in the weight reduction. Every component has been checked for compact design and lightweight materials, whilst the body shell’s weight alone reduced by 20 per cent from 357kg to 280kg. In addition to these considerable savings further chassis-related measures have resulted in a further 50kg weight loss and as we all know, less weight means improved performance as well as economy.
As expected, the engines include petrol and diesel units ranging from 100PS to 200PS, including an all-new 1.4-litre (150PS) ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo and the recently-launched 1.6-litre CDTi Whisper Diesel.
“The all-new Brit-built Astra raises the bar in terms of quality, design and connectivity,” said Tim Tozer, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. “Lighter than ever before, with new powertrains and cutting-edge technology, the new Astra is set to shake up the C-segment when it arrives in showrooms this autumn.”
Will these wide ranging changes to the venerable Astra propel it above the Ford Focus in the sales charts? Only time will tell but here at MotorMartin, I can’t wait to find out.
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