The Vauxhall Astra Mk1 was introduced in the UK in March 1980 and was the first car offered by the company that had no external differences from the car it was spun from, the Opel Kadett D.
There were plans for an angicised version of the car to be built, but they never left the styling studio, so when it was launched, the Astra differed from the Kadett in just its badging. However, the Astra’s true significance is in its packaging – it was the first front-wheel drive car built by GM Europe, and it ushered in a new range of overhead cam Family II engines, that really were a leap forward from what came before.
In 1.3-litre form, this power unit developed 75bhp (same as the Cavalier Mk2’s 1.6-litre), and in 1.6-litre form (introduced in 1982), it packed 90bhp for near hot hatch levels of performance.
In marketing terms, the Astra was a little confused. At launch, it was only available in plusher trim levels, and without the low power overhead valve 1.2-litre engine offered in the Kadett, and it replaced the Viva, not the Chevette. Early cars were built in Bochum, West Germany, but UK production commenced in November 1981 at Ellesmere Port.
The range was expanded during the following months, until all engines and body styles shared with the Kadett was offered. The Astra Mk1 was hugely important for Vauxhall, and signified the beginning of a massive sales push by the company, which would ultimately see it becoming the UK’s number two seller behind Ford in the mid-1980s.
Reviews, blogs and news stories
The estate car is dead… Long live the Sports Tourer. Vauxhall has recently extended its CoTY 2016 award-winning Astra range with the addition of some all-new load-luggers, but are they worthy of the Sports Tourer name? The Astra is most definitely Vauxhall’s answer to perpetual motion, isn’t it? Rather like post boxes and corner shops, they have been street […]
The seventh-generation Vauxhall Astra has been voted the European Car of the Year in a hard-fought competition that saw it fight off some tough challengers, including the Jaguar XE. The new family hatchback scored 309 points from the 58-strong Jury with the Volvo XC90 SUV in second place with 294 points and the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 in third with 202 points.
Lighter, faster, more efficient and better value than before. On paper, it looks like Vauxhall has a class-leader on its hands. There’s a lot riding on the new British-built midliner – can it see off the opposition and live up to its promise?
Keith Adams continues AROnline‘s series devoted to celebrating the great and the good that used to be familiar UK street furniture. Who remembers the Astra Mk1, a blisteringly capable, fun-to-drive small car that redefined Vauxhall’s standing in the small car field? We do, and we love ’em! A quantum leap The Astra was a landmark […]
Size really does matter Current mileage 12,905 Claimed economy 62.8mpg Actual economy 47.7mpg Regular readers will recall me giving my Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer a bit of a kicking for its less-than-impressive fuel returns in my previous report. It’s not as if fuel consumption in the high-forties is actually that bad for a near-4.7m long […]
I like the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. It’s an honest car, that’s well-made, well-designed and which performs well on the UK’s motorway network. And over the months, I’ve really grown to appreciate some of those clever little touches that make life so much easier. But I really wish it was more economical. In average driving, […]
Current mileage 12,101 Claimed economy 62.8mpg Actual economy 48.1mpg One of the joys of living in a multi-vehicle household is that there’s always work to do on one of the cars. And because I have a taste for fast hatchbacks from the 1970s and ’80s in particular – and the rarer the better – I’m […]
We’re moving towards the 1980s, and the hottest new ticket in town is GM’s exciting new front-wheel drive Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra. To see how good it was, What Car? magazine pitched a saloon version against the Austin Allegro and Colt Lancer. The result was pretty clear then – but would it be the case now? […]
Keith Adams Current mileage 12,101miles Claimed economy 62.8mpg Actual economy 49.6mpg I’d been complaining that the Astra was beginning to feel a little on the baggy side on the run-up to its service – there were some clonking noises coming from the front suspension and that venerable 1.7-litre turbodiesel was beginning to sound a little […]
Keith Adams Come the end of 2012, one of the UK’s most enduring motoring icons will be getting the bullet. Vauxhall has confirmed that production of the Astravan is to cease, although the company says that there will be sufficient stock to cover sales through to at least the first three months of 2013. The […]