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Facelifted Opel Astra on the way

Face of things to come: Opel has applied a few tweaks to its Astra small car, and Australian customers will get the updates from launch in September.

Australia to get facelifted Astra as Opel prepares ‘premium cabrio’ for Paris debut

18 Jun 2012

AUSTRALIAN Opel buyers will get the just-updated Astra line-up when the German brand arrives here in September, featuring styling tweaks and “customer-friendly innovations rarely seen in the segment”.

The facelifted small car, which has just gone on sale in Europe, is expected to be joined by a new Astra-based – but not yet named – convertible at the Paris motor show in September.

A revised Insignia mid-sizer has also been spied in testing, but this is expected to be unveiled at Geneva in March, meaning Opel will go with the current model for the Australian launch.

Local Astra specifications, pricing and engine choices will be announced closer to the Australian launch, but some of the technologies offered on the revised European model include camera-based driver assistance aids such as road sign recognition, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.

Other safety gadgets notify the driver if they are following the car in front too closely and alert them to potential collisions, and if the radar-based adaptive cruise control system is fitted the car will automatically brake to avoid a crash.

52 center imageFrom top: Opel Astra hatch Astra wagon Astra OPC hatch.

New engines include a twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine producing 143kW and 400Nm of torque, the latter figure matching that of the 209kW OPC performance flagship.

Astras fitted with the high-performance diesel – which has trickled down from the Insignia to create the fastest-ever diesel Astra – come with twin tailpipes, a body kit and interior styling package to create a sporting alternative to the hardcore OPC hot hatch.

The 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol engine announced last month will also make its way into the Astra next year, producing 147kW and 300Nm in its highest state of tune.

More modest is a tweaked version of the 103kW 1.4-litre turbo-petrol unit shared with the Australian-built Holden Cruze, which will gain an overboost function that temporarily increases torque from 200Nm to 220Nm for quicker overtaking.

Meanwhile, the 1.7-litre diesel ecoFLEX unit – which comes in 81kW or 96kW tune – is claimed to consume a Toyota Prius-beating 3.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and emits 99 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

Styling updates include a new ‘winged’ chrome grille insert with upturned edges and a deeper GTC-inspired lower air intake, while around the back is a re-shaped numberplate indent and a new chrome strip that are designed to increase the impression of width.

Opel says the interiors have been made “sportier, more lively and varied” with the application of revised fabrics, colours and glossy trim mouldings.

As GoAuto has previously reported, Opel Australia will not take the recently-revealed Astra sedan, which Opel says “completes” the current Astra range.

This wording apparently confirms reports that the upcoming Astra-based convertible – essentially a successor to the previous-generation Twin Top – will be released with a different nameplate, as Volkswagen did with its Golf-based Eos hardtop convertible.

Unlike the Eos, reports and spy shots confirm the new Opel convertible will have a traditional fabric roof.

The convertible appears to be larger than the Astra and reportedly rides on a combination of Astra and Insignia underpinnings, with an upmarket interior based on the latter.

More new Opel products in the pipeline globally include the Mokka compact SUV and the Adam premium-light hatchback, neither of which are officially confirmed for Australian release.

Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke recently announced a strategy aimed at turning the loss-making company around, with measures to reduce the cost of building cars, expand alliances beyond GM’s recent tie-up with PSA Peugeot Citroen, and potentially running factories closer to capacity by building Chevrolets.

It also includes an €11 billion ($A13.8b) program of 23 new model launches (including the “premium cabrio”), 13 new powertrains, more alternative-fuel vehicles and expansion into overseas markets including Australia.

The company last week outlined a plan to delay a wage increase across its German operations in return for an extension to a “no compulsory separations” (redundancies) promise until 2016.

As part of this plan, Opel has also agreed to keep its Bochum plant in north-west Germany producing the Zafira people-mover until the current model reaches the end of its lifecycle, rather than shutting it down in 2015, and will enter discussions about the site’s future.

In recognition of its German heritage, half of Opel’s investment between now and 2016 will be focussed on its domestic operations.

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