Tuesday 3 June 2008

Vauxhall/Opel Astra spied: best spy photos yet

Updated: 07/08/08

These are the best spy photos yet of the new Astra. After the cold-weather testing season ended, engineers descended upon the Austrian Alps and the Nurburgring race-track in Germany.

Caught testing alongside these 6 prototypes (see 12th picture) were the Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus. The new Astra is set to storm the European market in 2009 with a freshly designed exterior and interior. U.S sales should being in 2011 but badged as a Saturn.

Judging by the outside, the new Astra is considerably longer (check out the a-pillar window by the door mirrors), wider and taller than the outgoing model, thus creating more interior space. On these vehicles, the turn-indicators are located on the corners of the front bumper unlike being integrated into the headlamp cluster like the current model. It'll be interesting to see where the front fog lamps go...

Going to the rear, it looks like the newcomer will feature bootlid mounted lights and these will be influenced by the Insignia. The '09 Astra will be based on General Motor’s new global Delta platform, which also underpins the electric-hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

The interior will also be influenced by the new Insignia. There are 4 deep dials right in front of the driver and an array of switchgear; the current Astra is let down by a baffling sea of switches and the latest model’s cabin appears to be button-heavy again. The prototypes have basic spec; urethane steering wheel and gear shift lever, steel wheels and halogen headlamps. Better equipped trim levels will be available along with optional adaptive front lighting (AFL) bi-xenon headlamps, leather trim, electrically adjustable front seats and electrically operated sunroof etc.

Key innovations inside include an electronic parking brake, incredibly thin, upright air vents and a split, twin digital read-out.

In the pipeline will be a sleeker three-door variant that is claimed by insiders to be ‘very stylish’ and the estate will also be available from launch. Expect the Twintop coupe-cabriolet 12 months later alongside the VXR/OPC sport variant. Under the bonnet will be GM’s all-new 1.4 litre turbo to a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine developing at least 250bhp in the VXR/OPC model. The 1.4 litre turbocharged engine will be offered in 2010 with outputs ranging from 120bhp - 140bhp and torque values of 175 to 200 Nm. It is estimated that this unit will deliver an approximate 8% improvement in fuel consumption compared to the naturally aspirated 1.6 and 1.8 litre engine that it will replace.

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