Vauxhall has taken the covers off its upcoming Astra Electric and, at first glance at least, potential buyers will be hard-pressed to notice any visual difference between it and its combustion-powered equivalents.
Due to arrive in 2023 in both hatchback and Sports Tourer (estate) forms, the Astra Electric merely looks like a high-spec version of a standard Astra with its “Vizor” front-end, all-black or diamond-cut 18in alloy wheels as standard and LED headlights.
Only a small “e” badge at the rear denotes that that the Astra Electric is wholly battery-powered.
That normality is reflected inside as well, with a familiar pair of 10in digital screens ahead of the driver (one for the instrument cluster, the other for the infotainment system) and the same electrically-adjustable ergonomic seats — optionally trimmed in Alcantara — which are approved by the organisation Aktion Gesunder Rücken (or the Campaign for Healthy Backs) in Germany.
As expected, it’s under the skin where the Astra Electric differs the most from its siblings, though it should be noted that, thanks to the batteries being located in the car’s underbody, interior space has not suffered in the Astra Electric compared with the plug-in hybrid version; the Sports Tourer model gets a healthy 516 litres of luggage space behind the rear seats or 1,553 litres with the seats folded down.
An underfloor battery pack with a capacity of 54kWh (made up of 102 cells housed in 17 modules) is the same as that found in the upcoming Peugeot e-308, with both cars built on the same Stellantis EMP2 underpinnings and powertrain.
As such, the Astra Electric’s 258-mile range is similar to the Peugeot’s while the 153bhp and 199lb ft of torque being sent to the front wheels is comparable performance, too.
The Astra’s electrical architecture supports DC charging at up to 100kW, with an 11kW on-board AC charger suitable for use at a sufficiently-equipped outlet.
While the Sports Tourer won’t have the electric estate market entirely to itself, its only real direct competitors are likely to be the MG5 and the Vauxhall’s cousin the Peugeot e-308 SW.
The hatchback, on the other hand, is emerging into a crowded segment with stiff rivals including the Volkswagen ID.3, MG4, Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot e-308 hatch.
The Astra Electric is an important car for Vauxhall in its push to become a fully-electric car manufacturer by 2028.
UK pricing and specification for either the hatchback or Sports Tourer have yet to be announced, but expect something in the £35,000 to £40,000 price bracket.
First deliveries of the Astra Electric hatchback are expected in summer 2023, around the time of the launch of the electric Sports Tourer.
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