NEW BRIT-BUILT ASTRA RAISES QUALITY & VALUE AT FRANKFURT DEBUT
* New Astra’s highly competitive pricing and CO2 emissions announced today
* Ellesmere Port prepares for production of its tenth Vauxhall compact class car
* UK set to retain position as single largest market for Astra
Frankfurt – The new Vauxhall Astra received its global debut today at the Frankfurt Motor Show with the promise of aggressive pricing, exceptional quality, and levels of equipment and technology seldom seen in the compact class.
The entry level Exclusiv 1.4i (87PS) enters the market at £15,675, a mere £270 more than the outgoing equivalent model, yet now offers as standard air conditioning, electronic stability control, 16-inch wheels and an MP3-format radio/CD player with aux-in.
Further up the range, the SRi 1.4i Turbo, with its new-to-range engine, is just £10 more than the current, un-blown SRi 1.8-litre petrol, yet retains its 140PS output, reduces CO2 emissions by 18 per cent and Benefit in Kind tax by seven bands. Equipment levels rise too, with an electronic parking brake, centre armrest and active head restraints all standard.
The lead-in diesel-powered model’s price has also barely budged. Compared with the current Life 1.7 CDTi 100PS, the new and more powerful Exclusiv 1.7 CDTi 110PS drops a VED band, thanks to a 11g/km reduction in CO2, has even more standard equipment, yet costs just £15 more at £18,015.
Helping reduce the cost of Astra ownership still further has resulted in lower insurance group ratings. For example, an Exclusiv 1.4i (100PS) drops from a 5E/10E rating for the old model to a 3E/9E for the equivalent car in the new range. Similarly, an outgoing SE 1.6-litre (115PS) slides from 7E/13E (current) to 4E/12E (new), and an SRi 1.7 CDTi (125PS) from 12E/21E (current) to 5E/15E (new).
Vauxhall dealers’ order books are now open for the new Astra, with the first cars reaching showrooms in December.
ELLESMERE PORT – VAUXHALL’S COMPACT CAR HOME FOR NEARLY FIVE DECADES
* World-class manufacturing facility producing Britain’s best selling UK-built car
* New Astra will be tenth major model-line to be built at EP
* Provides employment for more than 2000 people in the Northwest region
For 46 years, Ellesmere Port has been the manufacturing home of every compact class Vauxhall sold in the UK, and is now set to become the launch factory for not only the sixth generation of Astra, but also all Opel versions sold across Europe.
The new Astra is the tenth generation of compact car to be built at Ellesmere. It opened its lines to the original Vauxhall Viva HA in 1963, and went on to produce a further two Viva models, the Chevette and then each successive Astra in five door and Astravan form.
General Motors’ plan to locate its revolutionary production facility at Ellesmere Port in 1961 was a vital shot in the arm for the economy in England’s Northwest region. Based on a 440-acre, ex-RAF station, the plant now employs 2200 people and has, in total, produced nearly 4.5 million vehicles since that first Viva HA rolled of its lines (see pic).
Today, the current Vauxhall Astra is the best-selling UK-built car in Britain, and thanks to Ellesmere Port’s ultra-modern and efficient infrastructure – which in the last 17 years has received nearly £1 billion of GM investment – it’s set to pass on this mantle to the new Astra.
No surprise, then, that Ellesmere Port has a capacity to produce 190,000 vehicles per year on a three-shift system, equating to 40 cars and vans per hour, or one Astra rolling off the line approximately every 90 seconds. With its own press, producing 60 panels per hour, 840 robots in Body, and a state-of-the-art paint shop, Ellesmere is one of the most advanced facilities in the UK, and one which is already being mooted to take on production of the Ampera, Vauxhall’s revolutionary E-Rev model set to hit UK showrooms in early 2012.
Achieving a Green Organisation 4-star status last year, Large Enterprise of the Year at the Northwest Automotive Alliance Awards and an incredible 18,670,000 days without a lost work day has galvanised Ellesmere Port’s position as one of the most successful car factories in Europe, and one which is in rude health for the future.
BRITAIN’S BEST-SELLING UK-BUILT CAR IS RE-BORN AND REVITALISED
* Premium design and quality in value sector of UK’s compact class
* Innovation and technology rarely found in Astra’s market sector
* Unique, efficient and driver-focused chassis set to rival class-best
Vauxhall’s all-new Astra is poised to raise the bar for compact cars sold in the UK, with a combination of stylish design, class-leading dynamics, ultra-efficient powertrains and upscale quality.
On sale now, and in UK showrooms from December, the new Astra will uphold Vauxhall’s tradition of offering buyers levels of innovation and technology normally found in a class above, but at a price point embedded in the value sector. New Astra prices start at £15,675 for the comprehensively equipped 1.4-litre, 87PS Exclusiv model and extend to £23,695 for the luxurious 2.0CDTi 160PS Elite automatic.
With a range of eight engines and five trim levels, the new Astra will initially be available as a five-door hatchback only, built at the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, home to all Vauxhall’s compact-class cars since it opened 46 years ago.
Ellesmere Port will be responsible from launch for manufacturing all Astras sold across Europe, but UK buyers will take the lion’s share, amounting to 25 per cent of total production. Small wonder, then, that even in its outgoing form, the Astra is Britain’s best-selling UK-built car and one that is almost always seen in the top three sales listings.
What’s more, the Lower Medium Sector, in which the Astra sits, is hugely significant in the UK, accounting for 17.7 per cent of all retail car sales. With style-conscious buyers choosing Vauxhall more and more, the Astra has a large part to play in this continued success, along with its continued appeal to buyers in the fleet market.
“As with the Insignia, the Astra is an all-new car, continuing the transformation of the Vauxhall product range which started five years ago with the launch of the Mk 5 model,” said Andy Gilson, Vauxhall’s Marketing Director. “Also like the Insignia, the Astra aims to attract a new group of buyers, those who may never have considered a Vauxhall before, but now see cars like the new Astra as offering all the style and quality of a premium product, such as an Audi A3, but at a far more affordable price point. “
Mark Adams and his team execute yet another design masterstroke
With its strong, cab-forward silhouette, steeply raked windscreen and sloping rear roofline, the Astra makes ingenious use of many of the design features found in the Insignia, but in a fresh and innovative way. Also like the Insignia, it has spent over 600 hours in the wind tunnel, benefiting performance, economy and overall refinement.
“We’re continuing with the same premium design cues as the Insignia,” said Mark Adams, Vice President of Design for GM Europe. “However, the main design themes, liked the wing-shaped signatures and the blade, needed an individual execution to avoid ‘cloning’ the model ranges.”
Upmarket design, quality materials and clever packaging define new Astra’s cabin
Echoing the flowing forms of its bodywork, the new Astra’s interior marks a major shift towards premium design and quality in the compact sector. It employs the recurring wing and blade motifs that were first introduced in the Insignia and are now used in a fresh and innovative way.
Ambient lighting enhances the feeling of quality in the cabin, with lighting points framing the gearshift surround, the area above the centre console and within the door handle recesses, depending on trim level.
Unparalleled in this sector is the Astra’s raft of clever cabin storage solutions, some of which have even been patented. Rather than focusing on the compartment size alone, the Astra’s cabin is full of bespoke storage areas designed specifically for the 20 most common items buyers have been found to carry in their car, from an MP3 player to a 1.5-litre drinks bottle.
Efficient, yet powerful, Astra’s engines are low on CO2 but high on power
The new Astra will be available with a range of eight engines, ranging from 87PS to 180PS, all of which offer impressive efficiency and an overall cut in emissions of 13.3 per cent compared with the current Astra range.
Diesel engines are expected to represent almost half of all Astra sales, and will range from a 1.7-litre producing 110PS to a 2.0-litre generating 160PS, but will never emit more than 129g/km when fitted with a manual transmission.
Crucially, there will be an important ecoFLEX model, equipped with a 95PS 1.3 CDTi available in Spring next year. Fitted with this engine, the ecoFLEX will achieve 109g/km, while retaining driveability and refinement.
There will also be five petrol engines available, ranging from an 87PS 1.4-litre to a 180PS 1.6-litre Turbo. Included in this line up will be a new 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, producing 140PS, replacing the 1.8-litre motor used in the current range. This new powertrain perfectly illustrates Vauxhall’s engine downsizing philosophy which provides drivers with all the performance of a larger capacity engine, but with far fewer emissions.
Innovative Watt’s link rear axle equals fine dynamics and superior packaging
The new Astra’s front and rear tracks have been increased by 56mm and 70mm respectively, while its wheelbase has been increased by 71mm, the cumulative effect being improved handling and ride quality, as well as more space and comfort for occupants.
Continuing Vauxhall’s trend for innovation, its engineers have combined the size, weight and efficiency benefits of a compound crank rear axle with a cleverly positioned Watt’s link, which helps support lateral forces during cornering.
Complementing this system is a new version of Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive damping system, which adjusts the suspension character automatically depending on the driver’s needs, while also offering three programmable damper settings.
Finally, a core body structure, stiffer than that of the outgoing car, enhances the new Astra’s ride and handling still further, while also reducing noise and vibration inside the cabin.
Vauxhall brings technology and innovation to the compact class
While the Insignia succeeded in making new, high-tech innovations accessible in the mid-size sector, Vauxhall has set itself an even more ambitious goal in bringing most of these features to the compact sector with the new Astra. These include:
* Advanced Forward Lighting (AFL+) – Vauxhall’s third generation AFL+ which changes its intensity and reach to suit prevailing driving and road conditions using nine different light functions
* Ergonomic Driver’s Seat – featuring 6-way adjustment (4-way on front passenger seat), 4-way lumbar adjustment and an extendable seat cushion. Available on all trim levels, both the driver’s and front passenger’s seats provide enhanced support for overall body comfort.
* FLEXfloor – provides flexible solutions to boot storage, and features a boot floor which is moveable and can be mounted in a choice of three positions according to owners’ needs.
* FLEXfix – Vauxhall’s innovative bike carrier is integrated into the rear bumper. This optional feature, which slides out of the rear bumper like a draw, provides an easy and convenient method of transporting up to two bikes.