2015 year looks set be a busy one for Vauxhall. As well as the freshly rejuvenated Corsa, the Luton-based firm plans to introduce four new models before the year is out, including the warm Adam Grand Slam (that we've just driven) a hot Corsa VXR, the all-new Viva city car and this, the new Astra.
Our latest spyshots are the closest view we've seen so far of the disguised production body. With slightly less cladding than before, the images confirm the Astra's front and rear light designs. Whilst the lamps are slightly altered from our exclusive renderings below, the rest of the body appears true to what we expected.
More dynamic and slimmer front lenses merge into a more prominent grille and bonnet fluting. The side profile shows a more sloping roofline even on the five- door, so we can expect the three-door to look even sportier than the current GTC. A pronounced kink down the flanks marks out the new model. At the rear, the overall shape remains familiar, but new 'sideways L' shaped LED lights debut.
According to Tim Tozer, Vauxhall’s chairman and managing director, there are several areas in which the current car can be improved: “The Astra today is a bit heavy. Can it overcome the 200kg excess? Nearly. But for the new model being lighter is key, plus interior touch and feel and powertrain investment.”
With less mass to carry around will come dramatically improved efficiency, helped by a range of fresh engines. While the cleanest version of the existing car emits 17g/km more CO2 than the class leaders, Vauxhall is targeting the 91mpg 308 1.6 BlueHDi, which emits 82g/km, as its benchmark.
The 114bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine from the Corsa will be offered, giving Vauxhall a direct rival to the 1.0 EcoBoost Ford Focus, while tweaked versions of the 1.6-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines are expected. It won’t have escaped Vauxhall’s attention that a Ford Focus RS is nearing completion, and Tozer said that when it comes to the VXR brand, the “business is committed to it”.
A tuned version of the current model’s 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo could feature with an output in excess of 300bhp.
Improving interior quality is high on the agenda for Vauxhall and this spy shot gives us an idea of what to expect. The much larger central screen inspired by the Adam and Corsa, sitting above a less cluttered centre console, certainly looks the part, but the proof will be how it feels when we get our hands on it.
What’s also remarkable is that Vauxhall plans to increase the Astra’s length – to boost rear legroom and boot space – while still significantly reducing the weight. Use of aluminium in the platform to achieve this isn't out of the question.
The new Astra is due to arrive in 2015 and will be built at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire. The current Astra and Astra Sports Tourer are produced there, and the new car is set to form a significant factor in a £125million investment which will generate a total of 700 new jobs and secure 2,100 others.
Production of the next-generation Astra will begin in 2015, and the agreement - which lasts until the early 2020s - is for a minimum of 160,000 cars to be built there every year.
As with previous generations of the Astra, different bodystyles will be offered. Although the spy shots show the more practical five-door, a sportier three-door and estate are also set to be made available.
There’s no official word on cost, but as Vauxhall has reduced the list price of the new Corsa, the Astra shouldn’t stray too far from the current model’s entry-level £12,995.
Click here to see the best cars to expect in 2015...