Frankfurt’s been happening, if you haven’t noticed, and Opel recently revealed the all-new next-generation Astra, which continues its trend of edging further upmarket with a much more mature and handsome design.
Pitched as Volkswagen Golf competitor, the Opel Astra has been on a steady incline in terms of packaging, looks, driveability and performance for its segment. Oh, and did we mention it’s a great looking car?
It sort of wishes we still got Opels in this country, though we technically do in the form of slightly reengineered and rebadged Buicks. Speaking of which actually, take a good look at this new Opel Astra because it could provide cues as to what to expect visually from the next-generation Buick Verano, which is essentially a model spun-off of the Opel Astra.
Not to mention, the Buick is a solid little entry-level near-luxury sedan for the money, if that’s any indication as to how good the Opel Astra and its platform cousins have gotten.
We don’t have high expectations however in terms of receiving a full-fledged Buick Verano hatchback, but try and imagine the new Astra as a sedan, and that’s possibly what we’ll see, especially with the Opel Cascada coming stateside, which is too based off of the Opel Astra.
For the Europeans however, the choice of a 1.0L three-cylinder, a 1.4L and 1.6L four-cylinder will be available, ranging from 95hp to 200hp in gas form only.
Light, Lighter – the New Opel Astra
- Consistent lightweight design: Five-door model up to 200 kilograms lighter
- Engineered from white sheet of paper: Every component trimmed to highest efficiency
- Compact: All-aluminum engines and interior concept save more weight
- Intelligent architecture: More space in slimmer shell
Rüsselsheim. Lighter, more frugal and compact while offering more generous interior space – everything about the new Opel Astra follows the maxim of highest efficiency. All components and design features are aligned to this touchstone, resulting in intelligent packaging à la Astra. The next generation of the compact bestseller that makes its premiere at the IAA in Frankfurt (September 17 – 27) is based on an all-new lightweight architecture, its body is noticeably slimmer and it is driven by powerful, weight- and CO2-optimized all-aluminum engines. All told, the new Astra is up to 200 kilograms lighter than its predecessor.
Consistent lightweight design: The new vehicle architecture
The visionary Monza Concept presented at the 2013 IAA was the role model for Opel’s eleventh compact class generation. Every component of the study reflects the efficiency maxim. The new Astra already consistently realizes this vision: depending on the model and trim level, it is up to 200 – but in any case at least 120 –kilograms lighter than its predecessor. The new, thoroughly slimmed down vehicle architecture plays a decisive role in this weight loss: the bodyshell (body-in-white) and structure alone are over 20 percent lighter, down from 357 to 280 kilograms. Another 50 kilograms were saved in the design of chassis components: high-strength and ultra-high-strength lightweight steels, more compact subframes as well as modification to the front and rear suspensions all contributed to this end result. In addition, engineers decided against full underbody paneling to further optimize the aerodynamics of chassis and drivetrain elements, resulting in a double advantage: lower weight and reduced production costs that enable more attractive price structures for customers.
Further size- and mass-optimization measures include shorter front and rear overhangs, as well as the up to 25 percent lighter exhaust system which saves around 4.5 kilograms on this part alone. The smaller wheels and tires weigh up to 11.5 kilograms less. The same is true for the brakes: as the system has less mass to decelerate, a more compact design weighing 10 kilograms less was possible – while delivering even better braking performance.
Lose the weight: Engines make their contribution
Another plus on the efficiency side is the new-generation engines. They distinguish themselves with their compact and ultra-efficient design: for instance the new 1.4 ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo engine making its premiere in the Astra weighs much less than current comparable units. Its aluminum engine block alone is ten kilograms lighter than the cast-iron block of its predecessor. Thanks to their compact design, the newest-generation, ultra-modern transmissions save just as much weight.
Reduced weight also leads to noticeably higher agility. The new Astra is more fun to drive than ever before – while saving fuel and CO2 emissions. The newcomer with the 1.0 Turbo and Easytronic 3.0 combination is one of the most economical and cleanest gasoline models in its segment. The 77 kW/105 hp three-cylinder unit reduces consumption in the combined cycle to 4.2 liters per 100 kilometers and CO2 emissions to an exemplary 96 g/km.
The interior was also put through a fitness program. Take, for instance, the seats: after five years of detailed work, the development team presented compact class seats that are more functional and comfortable, while featuring more of a space- and weight-saving design than ever before. State-of-the-art packaging calculation methods enable this, as do lighter polyurethane foams and ultra-high-strength steels that are built in under the robust seat upholstery. So the new Astra seats in front and rear are a total of around ten kilograms lighter than in the previous model.
Intelligent packaging: Lighter, more compact yet more spacious
The new Astra generation not only looks more sophisticated and athletic, it is also more compact. With a total length of 4.37 meters, the five-door hatchback is almost five centimeters shorter than its predecessor, its height of 1.48 meters is 2.5 centimeters smaller and its width has been reduced by 0.5 centimeters to 1.81 meters. These dimensions also have a positive effect on the vehicle’s weight. At the same time, interior space is more generous. Together with the newly designed, lighter and more compact seats, rear-seat passengers now benefit from 35 millimeters more legroom than before. This puts the five-door model in first place ahead of all the competition. Distance between the first and second rows has been increased by 1.5 centimeters, greatly enhancing traveling comfort and sense of space. The same is true for upper-body freedom of movement for passengers in both front and rear seats. Especially in terms of headroom, the new Astra sets standards in its class: the driver has 2.2 centimeters more headroom than in the predecessor. So the new Astra successfully squares the circle: it is lighter and more compact while offering more space and comfort than before.
– By: Chris Chin