All are ECOTEC four-valve units that meet the Euro 4 exhaust emission standard. New are the 1.9-litre CDTI diesel (150 hp) and the 170 hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines (alongside the 200 hp version due to go into Astra in 2005), coupled as standard to a new six-speed manual transmission. Vauxhall is also offering a five-speed manual gearbox, an automatic and Easytronic automated manual transmission.
Externally a high shoulder-line, strong wedge shape, pronounced wheel arches and clear-cut window graphics are all a part of Vauxhall’s new design cues. The bold face features a wide grille and three-dimensional, clear-glass headlamps.
The large rear lamps have a special light-scattering, "translucent" technology. The low curved roof-line, combined with the tapering front and rear overhangs, the long wheelbase (103 in/2.61 metres) and the wide track, all work together to give the new Astra a sleek appearance. It will for the first time in Astra, feature 18-inch light-alloy wheels available direct from the factory as an option.
The suspension features MacPherson struts and a subframe at the front, and a torsion beam with double-walled, U-shaped profile at the rear. The design not only retains all the advantages of a conventional torsion beam axle – such as minimal space requirements, low weight and high camber control – but can also be precisely tuned to the specific requirements of different variants within the model range.
A major option is the adaptive IDSPlus suspension system with Continuous Damping Control (CDC). The basis is a new electronic architecture with three CANBUS systems (Controller Area Network).
Thanks to CDC, the dampers react in real time to variations in the road surface or driving style and adjust themselves automatically to the prevailing conditions. With the IDSPlus system, the Astra’s driver can switch to a sport mode that regulates the damping characteristics as well as the response of the accelerator pedal and the power assistance of the electro-hydraulic steering.
With the automatic and Easytronic transmissions the gears are also selected at higher engine speeds.
The five-door model will be followed later by the estate and sporty three-door.
Prices will be announced closer to on-sale date.Published 16 July 2003