MATT CAMPBELL June 18, 2012
One of Australia’s favourite names is about to make a comeback.
One of Australia’s most loved nameplates – the Astra – is set to return to our shores within months, and the brand behind it has fast-tracked a revamp of the car to coincide with its Australian launch in September.
Opel, Holden’s German sister company, has introduced a number of minor styling tweaks to the Astra’s exterior and cabin, new optional safety equipment and several new engines, including a new high-performance turbo diesel engine.
The General Motors-owned brand has confirmed it will offer both the five-door hatchback and wagon versions of the car, as well as the GTC three-door hatch. Australians won’t see the Astra sedan variant, however. Instead, Opel says it will focus its sedan sales on the larger Insignia model.
No further details or specifications have been confirmed, but engine options are likely to include a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol (the same as is seen in Holden’s Cruze) with 103kW/220Nm; a 1.7-litre turbo diesel capable of 3.7L/100km; and a new high-performance 2.0-litre turbo diesel with 143kW and 400Nm.
The even hotter OPC model – the most powerful Astra ever, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine with 206kW and 400Nm – is also expected to join the range at a later date.
Opel has not yet confirmed the specifications for the Astra, but the update has seen the addition of safety goodies such as a camera-based crash warning system with traffic sign recognition, tailgate warning and lane departure warning.
A reversing camera, a parking assistance system, blind spot monitoring and radar based cruise control with automatic braking are also available.
Opel Australia managing director Bill Mott says it’s a boon for the brand to launch with the newly updated models.
“The timing for our local launch could not be more ideal, in allowing us the opportunity to bring the freshest Astra face to market from the outset,” Mott says.
“It’s a clear sign of the importance placed on both the Astra in our model line-up, and our local launch overall, that production for Australia has been expedited to allow us to launch the updated Astra at the same time as Germany.”
A poll conducted by Roy Morgan Research earlier this year saw the Astra trump several rivals – including the nation’s biggest selling car, the Mazda3 – in terms of nameplate awareness.
General Motors will attempt to position the Opel Astra as a more upmarket alternative to Holden’s Cruze, competing with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, but in Europe it competes against Ford’s Focus.