All-new version of top-selling British-built car unveiled. It'll be yours to buy from UK dealers by the end of the year.

This is Vauxhall’s new Astra hatchback. This, the sixth version of the top-selling small car, will reach UK showrooms by the end of the year. And, as the pictures suggest, it borrows much of its design from its new big sister, the Insignia.

As is often the case, the new one is a touch bigger than the old – growing to 4.4 metres long. Notably, the distance between front and wheels expands, providing more space for people and their belongings.

Vauxhall hasn’t yet let us see what the cabin looks like, but tells us to expect strides ahead in space and useful storage spaces along with improvements to the fit and finish.

There will be four petrol engines and four diesel engines to choose from. A 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit developing 130bhp will be all-new.

Much of the ‘big-car’ technology offered with the Insignia will trickle down to the Astra, including headlamps that adapt their beam patterns to the road at night and the FlexRide system, which allows the driver to pick between ‘comfort’, ‘sport’ and ‘tour’ ride settings.

Nearly one in three Vauxhalls currently sold is an Astra – so the newcomer’s success will be pivotal to the company, in whatever form it emerges from its current troubles.

At present, the five-door Astra is British-built and it is expected that all hatchback versions of the new car would be built here, although that has been cast into doubt while speculation over Vauxhall’s future ownership continues.

Stephen Jury


May 13, 2009