The upcoming Vauxhall Astra, which will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009, will not only feature a longer wheelbase and wider tracks for improved stability and ride comfort, but also a cleverly positioned Watts link rear suspension system that is set to offer drivers class-leading handling and ride comfort.
Vauxhall's much-praised FlexRide adaptive damping system will also be available on most Vauxhall Astra models - a feature rarely found in compact class cars.
The new Vauxhall Astra's front and rear tracks have been increased by 56mm and 70mm respectively, while its wheelbase has been increased by 71mm, the cumulative effect being improved handling and ride quality, as well as more space and comfort for occupants.
The FlexRide adaptive damping system, first seen in the European Car of the Year-winning Vauxhall Insignia - adjusts the suspension character automatically depending on driver's needs, while also offering three programmable damper settings.
All four dampers are electronically controlled and continuously adapt within milliseconds to the prevailing road conditions, vehicle movements and individual driving styles, enhancing driver safety.
In addition, FlexRide offers three settings that the driver can programme via dashboard buttons. In Standard mode, FlexRide continuously adapts to all driving conditions, but drivers can also opt for either Tour or Sport settings, too.
Tour mode relaxes the damper settings for a more comfortable ride and also reduces the steering effort, benefiting drivers on long journeys.
Sport mode offers a more connected driving experience: the dampers stiffen; the steering sharpens and the electronic throttle offers a swifter pedal response. To underline this effect, the instrument panel illumination changes from white to red, and if fitted, the Adaptive Forward Lighting system reacts even more quickly. Cars fitted with automatic transmission also have higher up-change points.As a further refinement, Sport mode includes a customisation menu, where the driver can de-select the damper and steering-assistance elements.Apart from a more rewarding driving experience, the Vauxhall Astra's FlexRide system offers safety benefits in emergency situations. For an avoidance manoeuvre in Tour mode, for example, chassis sensors convey this information to the DMC and the dampers are stiffened within a millisecond to provide maximum stability. Published 13 July 2009