The British-built, latest-generation Vauxhall Astra has had its first public outing in the UK following its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this month. It will go on sale here next month with a starting price of £15,295 – the key points are that it is lighter and more efficient than the outgoing model and is powered by a range of new engines spanning 98-197bhp.
The Astra has all-new lightweight underpinnings, making the most of its new powertrains – in its most efficient diesel form, it emits 82g/km, currently making it eligible for free VED. It currently accounts for 12 per cent of all sales in its market sector, and its two fiercest rivals, the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf, are at least a couple of years old, and this puts Vauxhall at the advantage in terms of showroom novelty.
The star of the range (until the VXRs arrive, at least) is the all-new 1.4-litre 148bhp Ecotec Direct Injection Turbo, which gives the new car a 0-60mph time of 8 seconds. The recently-launched 1.6-litre CDTi Whisper Diesel is also a class-leader – in terms of refinement and efficiency – in this vitally important sector of the market.
Showroom goers will also love the gadgets – it comes with OnStar high-speed 4G LTE mobile network, emergency response notification and stolen vehicle recovery alert, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available through a new version of the IntelliLink infotainment system. For those who love hooking up their smartphones to their car, this is good news, and simple to use, too.
So, does the Astra have what it takes to beat the Focus and the Golf? Find out in our upcoming First Drive story.