It’s been one of the most anticipated debuts of 2015 for Opel fans, and rightly so, as the Astra is one of the key pieces in the puzzle that is Opel’s long awaited resurgence.  It enters what is possibly the hottest contested segment locally against the likes of the VW Golf and Ford Focus, and looks to do right what the current Astra J did wrong.

How is it going to do that?  Well or starters, the new Astra features an all-new design and construction, bespoke for the Astra.  Instead of being engineered on a platform destined for shared use with SUVs, convertibles and sedans, the new D2 platform has been simplified to do what it’s intended without the weight penalties the J suffered.  As such, at least 120Kg and up to 200Kg has been sheared off the new Astra – correcting the hefty weight which was the previous model’s greatest foe.

The lighter weight should not only improve handling across the range, but will allow the Astra to be more efficient too.  Aiding this goal, a range of new engines will be available in the hatchback – ranging from Opel’s 1.0T 3-cylinder EcoFLEX engine from the ADAM (tuned here at 77kW) to a new 1.4T unit (107kW and 250Nm) and an assortment of diesel engines ranging in outputs from 70kW to 147kW.  Expect a 1.6T petrol engine to also make an appearance, with a likely output nearer the 147kW mark.

At this stage there are no details of the OPC model, however it is suspected the OPC will tackle the upcoming Ford Focus RS with a power output in excess of 221kW, whilst Opel will revive the GSI nameplate to fight the Golf GTI and Focus ST.

The lighter weight of the Astra has been matched with smaller dimensions too; 5cm shorter than the J at 4.37 metres in length, and 2cm shorter in height, measuring 1.46 metres tall.  Opel claim to have worked on maximising interior space too, despite the smaller dimensions, and yet they haven’t reduced storage space either.  Rear passengers can look forward to 35mm extra leg room, despite a 20mm shorter wheelbase.

The spacious interior has been mated with a new design and high quality finishes that look to move the Astra more upmarket and premium in feel.  The sweeping dashboard features a new, clean design, free from clutter and featuring new technology such as a high quality IntelliLink touch screen system equipped with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.  The Astra will also benefit from a range of other technologies inside, including traffic sign detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, cruise control with speed limiter, advanced park assist, and a rear view camera.  The Astra features ergonomically designed seats; 18-way adjustable for the driver; with massage function, ventilation and width setting.

It’s a whole new world for Opel with the Astra K – the modern exterior features LED tail lamps and IntelliLux LED matrix headlamps, which feature 8 LED segments that illuminate and deactivate independently to light the road and surrounding areas whilst not blinding other road users.  It does so by switching off segments directing light at other cars.  At some stage, it is expected that Opel’s eye-guided headlamp technology will also feature on the Astra, although this may only feature after the facelift arrives.

It’s a bold new direction for Opel, with a new look, fantastic new technologies, new engines, and lightweight construction which sees the Astra poised to really take the fight to the current class leaders from VW and Ford.  Expect the Opel Astra K to reach South African shores in the first quarter of 2016.

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