IT MAY not appear to be the sort of car that would “break the internet”, but last week pictures of the new Vauxhall Astra were leaked online, sending the suits at Vauxhall’s Luton HQ scrambling as the still-secret family hatchback somehow made a surprise debut ahead of schedule. Car fans on social media went into overdrive.
So what is the big deal? The Astra is a big seller for the brand, and the new version will be crucial in helping Vauxhall hold its ground against Ford and Volkswagen (it is outsold by the Focus and Golf).
Pictured here is the five-door model, which will be displayed at the Frankfurt motor show in September, before going on sale in Britain (where it will, like previous generations, be built) shortly afterwards. A three-door version and an estate will follow, as will a high-performance VXR. Prices for the five-door have yet to be announced but are likely to be close to those of the outgoing model, which start at £15,445.
What will drivers find when they size up the new Astra? There’s an all-new look that is as sensible as that of every other Astra before it. However, it is slightly smaller — about 2in shorter and 1in lower — and slightly lighter than the old model.
There will be a choice of engines, including one-litre three-cylinder and 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol units and a 1.6-litre diesel. Vauxhall is keeping quiet about fuel economy and whether it will offer a plug-in hybrid to take on the Volkswagen Golf GTE.
Despite its smaller size there’s said to be more space inside, while the interior looks more upmarket than that of past Astras, which had all the charisma of a motorway service station. New technology should help take the stress out of journeys. This includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which integrate certain features from phones, such as Skype, maps, music and Siri voice control, into the entertainment centre.
Features aimed at making this the safest Astra to date include adaptive LED headlamps, lane-keeping assistance, forward collision alert and autonomous emergency braking.