Following some leaked shots earlier this week, GM's European operations have officially pulled the wraps off the 2010 Opel/Vauxhall Astra.
At first glance it's obvious the Astra borrows some of its good looks from its big brother, the Insignia. The profile of the five-door variant boasts a steeply raked windshield and a sloping rear roofline. However, the Astra's appearance is only one of the changes made for the 2010 model year. According to Andy Gilson, Vauxhall's Marketing Director, "The only part of the Astra which isn't new is its name."
Under the Astra's smooth body is an all-new chassis that features a longer wheelbase and wider tracks front and rear. The Astra also receives a new rear axle design, adding further to passenger comfort as well as handling. Drivers whose ride and handling tastes change based on the shape of the road can opt for the FlexRide system. Itallows the driver to select from three different damper settings (standard, sport and tour) and also automatically adapts to driving style and cornering speed.
Official pictures of the interior haven't been released yet, but reports say the Astra makes strides similar to the Insignia in interior quality. New seat designs, additional storage compartments and a wraparound dash treatment all are expected in the new model.
For Europe, the 2010 Astra gets four gas engine and four diesel engine options. Headlining the gas engine lineup is a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 140 PS (138-hp). The three other gas engines have outputs ranging from 100 PS to 180 PS (99-hp to 178-hp). Output from the four diesel engines (which are unlikely to appear on U.S. models) ranges from 95PS to 160PS (94-hp to 158-hp).
The future of GM's European operations is still unknown, but the 2010 Astra is sure to make a strong case for both Opel and Vauxhall. Rumor has it that the latest Astra will come to the States as a Buick since Saturn, the brand that the Astra is currently sold under in the U.S., will no longer be part of GM when the new model makes its way across the pond. The five-door Astra will make its official debut at the Frankfurt Show in September and will go on sale in Europe at the end of the year.