Vauxhall’s design language newly interpreted for the compact class•Driver-focused interior combines quality and warmth•High quality components and materials match upscale executionThe new Vauxhall Astra will mark the sixth generation of the model in the last 30 years and from launch will be built at the company’s Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, UK.The exterior of the new generation Astra, which debuts in September at the IAA in Frankfurt, boasts a strong cab-forward, fluid silhouette. Inside, high quality materials and a totally fresh design aim to raise the bar in the compact sector.‘The design of the new Astra takes all the best Vauxhall has to offer and delivers it to the compact class,’ says Mark Adams, Vice President of Design for GM Europe. ‘We have built a five-door hatchback that is as beautiful as it is safe, comfortable and practical.’
Vauxhall’s design language gets a new twistWith its strong, cab-forward silhouette, steeply-raked windscreen and sloping rear roofline, the new Astra makes ingenious use of many of the design features found in the Insignia, but in a fresh and innovative way. Also like the Insignia, it has spent over 600 hours in the wind tunnel, benefiting performance, economy and overall refinement.‘We’re continuing with the same premium design cues as the Insignia,’ said Adams. ‘However, the main design themes, like the wing-shaped signatures and the blade, needed an individual execution to avoid ‘cloning’ the model ranges. This is why, for instance, you see twin wings in the rear lights and a reversed blade on its flanks.’
Premium design theme in more spacious cabinMark Adams and his team continued the design theme throughout the Astra’s cabin. The blade theme can be seen in details like the shape of the door grab handles and the trim for the gearshift molding and steering wheel. The wing design cue is incorporated in the wraparound instrument panel that embraces front seat occupants. It arcs across the cabin into the top of the door moldings.Overall, the Astra’s cabin is more spacious than before, thanks to more effective packaging and the cars longer wheelbase. It also benefits from greatly increased storage areas, including a clever mini-glovebox on the driver’s side and an optional drawer under the front passenger seat.EXTERIOR DESIGN•Design cues from much-praised Insignia reinterpreted for new Astra•Sculptural shapes combined with sporty proportions•Powerful shoulder-line and rakish profile re-define Vauxhall’s design languageThe next generation Astra brings a new look to the compact class, with its strong sporty lines, elegant surfaces and its unique interpretation of Vauxhall’s design language.A slim but low trapezoidal grille incorporating the latest Griffin logo dominates the front of the car, while the familiar blade sculpted into the side panels of the new Astra sweeps upward and visually connects with the side window-line, balancing the car’s proportions.Eagle eye-shaped headlamps, that encompass the prominent wing-shaped daytime running lights, blend with a graceful flowing silhouette that connects the new car’s muscular shoulder lines with its distinctive rear hatch area.‘We carried forward the work we began with Insignia,’ says Mark Adams, Vice President Design GM Europe. ‘This time we’ve given our design language a fresh expression for the compact class segment. Think of it as if the Insignia and Astra are members of a family. You can recognize the same gene pool, yet each car has its own personality and character.’The raked A-pillars flow into a diving bonnet-line, leading to narrow headlamp units, housing lights mounted on a dark inner surface, which add depth and a three-dimensional quality. The signature wing graphic on the daylight running lights sits inside sharp, eagle-eye headlamps.The front indicator lights are now located separately in the front bumper recesses and are accented with chrome, while the neatly shaped repeater units are set into the upper front wings.New body design sees reappearance of ‘Blade’A crisply-executed soft shoulder line runs along the side of the body into the sculpted rear light units. Above these, the car’s windows are framed by a matt chrome surround, unique in the compact class.Pressed into the side panel just ahead of the rear wheels is the unmistakable blade motif, echoing the distinctive design cue in the front doors of the Insignia. On the new Astra, though, the blade swings upward in a rearward movement, providing the car with its own individual identity.In profile, the car’s svelte proportions are accentuated by the triangular shape of the rear side window, the falling roof, the wraparound rear screen and the upward direction of the blade feature. They all appear to flow together to give the vehicle a sense of movement and harmony.
Coupe styling with hatchback functionalityThe new Astra’s side view hints at a sleek, almost coupé-like look, which belies the Astra’s generous passenger accommodation, suitable for five adults.Viewed from behind, the shoulder line extends along the side of the body into the sculpted rear lights in one, continuous flow. Designers achieved the muscular rear proportions by creating strong rear body shoulders, combined with a wraparound C-panel and tapered rear window.The taillight units are set apart to accentuate the width of the vehicle’s stance, and viewed at night, their double wing graphic creates an instantly recognisable appearance. This is enhanced by an upper rear spoiler, which also serves to improve the car’s aerodynamics.INTERIOR DESIGN•Clever packaging offers more occupant comfort and space•Distinctive exterior design cues echoed in cabin•Tactile feel throughout cabin enhanced by extensive use of premium materialsEchoing the flowing forms of its bodywork, the new Astra’s interior marks a major shift towards premium design and quality in the UK’s compact sector, and continues Vauxhall’s design evolution which started five years ago with the current Astra, followed by a further step-change last year with the launch of the Insignia.The Astra’s interior employs the recurring wing and blade motifs that were first introduced in the Insignia and are now used in a fresh and innovative way. The blade theme is expressed in details like the gooseneck shape of the door grab handles and the trim for the gearshift moulding and steering wheel.As you look at the Astra’s wraparound instrument panel, which embraces both front seat occupants, the wing design is immediately visible as it arcs across the cabin into the door-top mouldings. The dashboard has a black, grained finish with a subtly different texture to other mouldings in the cabin.Ambient lighting enhances the quality feel of the cabin, with lighting points framing the gearbox surround, and providing illumination from above the centre console and within the doorhandle recesses, depending on trim level.The feeling of cabin space and depth is illustrated by a centre panel mounted at a shallow 30-degree angle, which sweeps down from the top of the instrument panel to the centre console, creating a flowing surface that incorporates the gearshift. Like the Insignia, the Astra’s main clocks and gauges are ringed with chrome, with the speedometer and tachometer pods angled inwards towards the driver.Special emphasis has gone into the design and engineering of the Astra’s seats, which now have industry-leading levels of adjustment. Their height can be raised by up to 65mm, while their fore and aft range extends to 280mm, allowing all drivers and passengers to find their ideal seating position. In addition, the Ergonomic Sports Seats (standard in all Elite models) have improved tilt adjustment, four-way power lumbar support, superior side support and supporting foam pads.Storage and packaging‘So do people actually put gloves in their gloveboxes?’This was one of the many questions put to potential customers by Vauxhall’s designers as they researched what people stored in their cars, and where they put various items in their cabins. As a result, the new generation Astra has a raft of clever storage solutions unparalleled in the compact sector, some of which have even been patented.Using feedback from the survey, the interior team first compiled a list of the 20 most common items customers stored in the cars: pens, coins, a flashlight, a road atlas, a parking disc, sunglasses, a wallet, paper tissues, a mobile phone, CDs, sweets, cups, magazines, newspapers, fruit, a first aid kit, a jacket, a 1.5/1.0/0.5-litre drinks bottle. And, of course, gloves.Next, they noted where owners wanted to keep the items and looked for practical solutions. They found that car companies tended to focus on storage size alone, and that led to irritatingproblems, such as CDs being stored in the centre console, preventing the arm rest from being fully dropped down.Max Kuncl, the team’s Performance Integration Manager likened the challenge to a puzzle: ‘It was important for the team not only to find places for the items to fit, but for the new Astra’s interior to still look great, and maintain high quality standards throughout the cabin.’This painstaking attention to detail has resulted in a variety of simple, but effective storage solutions. A hard-shelled sunglass case has been inserted above the door opening on the driver’s side; coin slots and pen holders are moulded into the inside edge of the glove box lid; and the glove box itself has two removable compartments, while a second mini-glove box has been added just below the light switch.Further storage innovation is illustrated by the centre console, which can accommodate nine CD cases, as well as having a small storage area and an insert for two cup holders. There’s also the option of an under-seat drawer beneath the passenger seat which is big enough to hold a pair of shoes. Rear passengers also benefit, with a 12-volt connection available for mp3 players, in addition to space for drinks bottles.The new Astra’s boot also came under close scrutiny. A recess was created in the side of the boot to accept either a first aid kit or warning triangle, while a patented Flex-Floor was devised to offer further under-floor storage, while the floor itself can be fixed at different heights.And those gloves? According to the survey, most owners don’t keep them in the glovebox at all. They usually get thrown in the door’s side pocket, next to the ice scraper.
Materials and quality‘Our goal was to make the perceptual quality in the interior of the next generation Astra as great as that of the Vauxhall Insignia,’ says Peter Hasselbach, in charge of Design Appearance Quality. ‘This is in line with Vauxhall’s mission to bring innovations and quality to the compact class.’The quality of the materials used in the new Astra can be seen in areas like the grained surfaces, the textured panels, the chrome trim elements and the feel and operation of the buttons and switches. In addition, all the Astra’s main surfaces are textured with upscale materials and top grains to give a strong, premium feel.
Price this car:MSRP: £15,675 – £23,695Invoice: not available yetSource: Vauxhall Press Release