Towards the end of 2015, possibly at the Frankfurt Motor Show, a new better-looking, significantly lighter and British-built Vauxhall Astra will be revealed. With the recent launch of the new Corsa, and the Viva city car pencilled in for a spring debut next year, Vauxhall is keeping the new products coming thick and fast.
We’ve already spied camouflaged prototypes on public roads (below), but our exclusive images peel back the wrap to show how the Ford Focus and VW Golf rival will look. A larger grille, flowing into slimmer headlights, along with a defined crease along the shoulder line and new fluting in the bonnet, will mark out the five-door. Like the current GTC, expect the three-door’s roofline and bodywork to be more overtly sporty.
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.
A 114bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine is likely to 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 whisper diesel engines are expected, too. 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.
These pictures our best look yet at the all-new Vauxhall Astra on the road. Previously, we’d only seen a grainy shot of the new hatchback, but now we have a full set of shots of a camouflaged prototype model, while our exclusive images in the gallery above let you see what’s underneath the cladding.
What’s clear is that the Astra has grown – the bonnet is longer and more sculpted, while at the rear there’s a larger overhang.
A more prominent crease on the flank, which stretches from the A-pillar to the tail-lamp, is also noticeable. The styling revamp – including the bold front end and more curvaceous panels – is clearly inspired by the Monza concept.
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, 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 reducing the weight.
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 at Ellesmere Port, and the new car is set to be built there as part of 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 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 the starting price 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...