2022 Vauxhall Astra gets radical redesign
Vauxhall’s first Astra under Stellantis’ ownership will be radically different, with a bold new design and plug-in hybrid power. It’s the biggest shift yet for the eighth generation of the British staple, which now shares its underpinnings and much of its technology with the forthcoming Peugeot 308. Production will also shift from Ellesmere Port to Rüsselsheim, Germany, with the Astra expected to cost from £23,000 in diesel guise, when it arrives in showrooms at the beginning of next year. Ellesmere Port will become home to electric vans from 2022.
The family hatchback adopts the same design language as the Mokka and Grandland SUVs, with a ‘Vizor’ grille flanked by angular LED headlights. The smooth, gloss-black grille not only gives the Astra a fresh and distinctive look, but it also neatly hides forward-facing sensors. To go with its contemporary look, the Astra sports Vauxhall’s new Griffin logos, and top versions will get Intelli-Lux LED Pixel headlights with 168 individual elements each. The option of bi-colour paintwork will be available for the first time, and the model name spans the tailgate, which is now constructed from plastic to save weight. There is at least one nod to the past, with the black plastic insert in the C-pillar reminiscent of the Mk1 and Mk2 Astra.
Changes inside are just as radical, with the traditional analogue gauges and buttonstrewn fascia of the outgoing Astra replaced with digital displays, in a similar fashion to the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf. Branded ‘Pure Panel’, there’s a pair of 10-inch displays for driving information and infotainment, sitting side-by-side in an upright panel that appears to be free-standing in the dashboard. In a move that should please many buyers, a single row of piano key shortcut buttons sits beneath this, enabling physical control of key settings like the climate control system. An electronic gear selector and parking brake frees up room in the centre console for extra storage.
Sitting on its new EMP2 architecture and measuring 4,374mm in length and 1,860mm wide (without door mirrors), the Astra is slightly bigger than before, but now sits 15mm lower. Its wheelbase has increased by 13mm, which is likely to ensure a small increase in rear passenger space, while the boot now measures 422 litres, giving it a useful advantage over the Golf’s 381-litre boot.
Like the latest Peugeot 308, the new underpinnings also mean the Astra will be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time, helping it compete with the Golf GTE and Skoda Octavia iV. Based around a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the plug-in hybrid is paired with a 109bhp electric motor for combined outputs of 178bhp or 222bhp. An EV range of just over 31 miles is expected from its 12.4kWh battery pack, which can be charged in less than two hours. While efficiency figures haven’t been released yet, these versions are likely to appeal to company-car drivers thanks to their predicted low CO2 emissions.
However, the PHEV is also likely to sit at the top of the range, so more affordable 1.2-litre petrol three-cylinder engines with 109bhp to 129bhp will also be offered. A diesel has also been confirmed with up to 129bhp, which will be a turbocharged four-cylinder unit. These engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but an eight-speed automatic will be optional. Driver assistance features take a big step up, with cameras found not only in the windscreen, but also at the sides and rear of the car. There are also five radar sensors and ultrasonic sensors dotted around the car as part of Vauxhall’s ‘Intelli-Drive’ suite of technology. Bolstering the capability of its adaptive cruise control, this can adapt the car’s speed in corners and perform semi-automatic lane changes, but it will also detect if the driver takes their hands off the steering wheel and prompt them to take back control. A large head-up display is also offered, along with improved blind-spot detection and a 360-degree camera view to aid parking.
As with other models in the Vauxhall range, the new Astra will be offered in SE, SRi, Elite and Ultimate specification levels, with the hatchback arriving first, with a more practical Sports Tourer estate arriving later.
“There is at least one nod to the past, with the black plastic insert in the C-pillar reminiscent of the Mk1 and Mk2 Astra.”