With this, the eighth generation Astra, the brand is building on its commitment to electrification and having all of its range with a plug-in option by 2024. It’s an important car for Vauxhall to have with a plug, being second only to the Corsa in terms of sales. It’s not just about the powertrain, though, as Vauxhall has bestowed the Astra with perhaps its most distinctive look – possibly since the model’s inception over 40 years ago.
Vauxhall has given the new Astra its ‘Vauxhall Visor’ design language which is focussed on a distinctive front end. It’s the first hatch to gain this design following the Mokka, Crossland and Grandland SUVs. It is defined by the wing shaped daytime running lights which frame the black main grille. A sharp bonnet crease and fog lights set in cheek detents add to the angular and muscular look.
Also up front are new LED Pixel light headlights which have taken their technology from the larger Insignia. An Intelligent Vision camera system is also integrated into the front end.
Size wise, the Astra has grown ever so slightly, up 4mm in length to 4374mm and increasing 51mm in width to 1860mm. Length has been added where it matters, with the wheelbase now 13mm longer at 2675mm to increase cabin space. 422 litres of luggage space is available with the rear seats in place and the adjustable boot floor in its most capacious setting.
Down the sides and to the rear of the car Vauxhall has worked on making the Astra seem more squat and hunkered down. A forward raked C-pillar helps in this. The tailgate is made of lightweight composite materials to help keep the car’s bulk down.
The new Vauxhall Astra is based on the Stellantis EMP2 architecture, which it shares with the Peugeot 308 (recently announced with PHEV options) and a variety of other plug-in cars from the group. In terms of powertrain specifics, all we know is that there will be a plug-in hybrid ‘in two performance levels’ with up to 221hp and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
We have now had it confirmed that the Astra will share the same two PHEV options as seen in the 308 and DS 4 (among others). This means it’ll be front-wheel drive with either 178bhp or that higher 221bhp option. Both use the brand’s venerable 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and a 108bhp electric motor to deliver those final outputs. A battery of 12.4kWh should see up to 35 miles of electric range according to official figures which have just been released.
Performance and economy is as strong as you’d expect from a relatively powerful PHEV, with the lower powered car hitting 62mph in 7.9 seconds and the higher powered version taking just 7.7 seconds. Top speeds are 140mph and 146mph respectively. Official fuel consumption and CO2 figures are up to 256.8mpg and 24g/km, making the new Astra PHEV a likely choice for many company car drivers.
Vauxhall is carrying over the Pure Panel interior first seen in the Mokka-e which blends two 10 inch displays to create an almost wrap-around digital dash. It can be fully glazed to add to that effect. For better or for worse, the physical controls have been minimised with much focus having been put in surfacing the most important controls to the first layer of menus on the touchscreen panel.
Connectivity is via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and voice recognition is built in. Driver aids are numerous, too, with up to four cameras, five radars and ultrasonic sensors front and rear to inform the systems. As well as safety, a head-up display, long-range blind spot detection and 360-degree camera for easier manoeuvring can be specified.
Vauxhall is going to start taking orders for the new Astra this autumn with deliveries beginning in early 2022. UK specs and pricing will be confirmed in due course.