Rejoice! It's the all-new Vauxhall Astra

It's the car we've quite literally not really been waiting for - the new Vauxhall Astra is here. And actually, it's not that bad looking...

The all-new sixth generation five-door Vauxhall Astra will be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show this September before hitting UK roads two months later.

See the new Vauxhall Astra on video here.

The three-door Sport Hatch will be a Scirocco-esque coupe and will show up in late 2010, followed by a VXR model that’s not due for launch until summer 2011.

Thanks to the fact that the larger Insignia has been a bit of a hit, including winning last year’s European Car of the Year, Vauxhall has stuck with a similar styling theme for the new Astra. Both cars are the work of Brit designer Mark Adams and his team of scribblers.

In an effort not to make the Astra look too much like an Insignia with its boot lopped off, the big Nike tick that runs down the car’s side has been reversed on the Astra. The rear lights are noticeably different on the Astra too.

Vauxhall is all about making its cars as slippery as possible these days, so the Astra spent “over 600 hours in the wind tunnel.” And while we’re all for refinement and fuel efficiency, hopefully this doesn’t mean we’re all going to be driving round in cars that all look like the same smooth blob.

To keep the Astra competitive, this all-new car has grown around 100mm, to 4400mm, with a 71mm increase in the wheelbase. That means that the Astra’s cabin should offer more space than before. However, the slopey roof is likely to cut off rear headroom just as in the Insignia

The Ford Focus has long been the benchmark in the class for handling, although the last Astra was pretty good. The Astra rides on the new GM Delta platform, as debuted by the surprisingly competent Chevrolet Cruze. It sticks with a revised version of the old Astra’s rear suspension, which isn’t as sophisticated as the one in the Focus or the VW Golf. But the new Astra does have a wider track front and rear, so stability and agility will move on somewhat.

Astra buyers will be able to opt for the Insignia-style FlexRide adjustable damper system. Choose from standard, sport or tour, and then marvel at how your Astra drives slightly differently at the touch of a button. Magic. Adaptive front lights and road sign recognition will also be optional Astra extras.

Under the Astra’s bonnet will a choice of no less than seven different engines, robbed from the Insignia and Corsa ranges. There are four diesels to chose from, ranging from just 95hp to a whole 160hp. The remaining three are petrols, with the highlight of the whole powerplant range being a frugal yet punchy 1.4-litre turbo which replaces the old 1.8, and punts out 140hp.


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