The new sixth-generation Vauxhall/Opel Astra five-door hatchback hit dealer showrooms in Europe on Saturday, with 45,000 units having already been ordered by customers since September, the company said.
The Astra is GM Europe’s most important model and success is critical for the long-term future of the brand. The fifth-generation of the compact contributed sales of some 438,000 cars last year or about a third of the brand’s overall volume. Assembled at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant, the 1.4-litre, 87-hp variant starts at around £15,675 (15,900 euros).
Like the larger Insignia, the mid-sized car Astra was engineered in Germany at Opel’s Ruesselsheim research and development centre where the entire global “Delta” compact car architecture for GM was developed.
Also on the launch list is next year’s Astra Sports Tourer, a source of conflict within the company since Ruesselsheim’s labour force is in disagreement with management over their decision to concentrate all production of the station wagon version in Ellesmere Port. The three-door version of the Astra will be built in Gliwice, Poland, starting in 2011.
Opel’s engineering skill at constructing compact and mid-sized cars was a major reason why GM scrapped plans to dispose of a majority stake in its European carmaker to Canadian supplier Magna International Inc.
Source: AutoNews Europe