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Opel, the beleaguered European subsidiary of General motors, has jumped its own gun by releases pictures of the sixth–generation Astra, months before its official release at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The car, which currently is been marketed in Australia as the Holden Astra, seems less likely to wear that badge, especially as Holden has suspended imports of the current Astra from Opel/Vauxhall pending an internal inquiry into its ongoing role in the Australian car market.

The new Opel/Vauxhall Astra shows strong links to its sibling the Insignia and Opel has been quoted as saying that the only thing left from the previous Astra is the name.

The five-door hatchback traditionally is one of Europe’s best-selling models and originally was expected to play an important role in the Saturn line-up in the United States.

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Under GM’s pared-down line-up, which sees an end to the Saturn brand, the Astra’s Delta II chassis is likely provide the underpinnings for a small Buick, initially in China, and then in the United States, depending on market conditions.

A sedan based on the Delta II chassis will be shown to the media this week, expect a First Steer on CarAdvice on Wednesday, and  will go on sale in Australia in a couple of weeks as the Holden Cruze, which will be built at the Daewoo plant in South Korea.

Holden Cruze

GM Holden is also planning to build a Delta-based small car, expected to be a hatch, from late next year at its Elizabeth plant in South Australia.

GM Holden's small car conceptual design

If Holden does take the new Astra from next year it would be expected to be a premium product positioned above the imported and locally built Delta II products.

Opel’s reveal of the Astra comes in the midst of uncertainty over the future of Opel/Vauxhall and the German-based carmaker has been approached by a number of companies in recent weeks, including Fiat, Magna International and Russian carmaker GAZ.

All are interested in buying part or all of Opel. GM plans to sell Opel as part of its global restructuring plan.

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Opel developed the new Astra from the ground up and visually, it takes on a more upscale look than its immediate predecessor, borrowing styling cues from the larger Insignia.

“Opel’s unique expertise of making new technologies accessible in compact cars is really highlighted with this tenth generation. In addition, the new Astra carries the spirit of the Insignia into the compact segment with unprecedented passion and commitment to excellence,” says Alain Visser, Vice President of Opel.

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Opel says elegant proportions give it a strong, cab-forward silhouette, with a steeply raked windshield and falling rear roofline, adding visual excitement to the traditional hatchback format.

The brand’s new design language – sculptural artistry combined with German precision – is now seen in a different way.

“The design themes introduced in the Insignia, like the wing and the blade, have been given a fresh interpretation in the Astra, because it’s important that each Opel model has its own personality,” says Mark Adams, Vice President of Design, General Motors Europe.

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“This is why you see double wings in each of the rear lights and a dynamic inverted blade on the flank that visually connects to the powerful movement of the rear window and C-pillar.”

The interior uses the same wing and blade design cues as the exterior, creating harmony inside and out. A special effort, too, has been made to add multiple flexible storage solutions.

Developed in Rüsselsheim, Germany, the Opel Astra also comes with an all-new chassis. Its longer wheelbase combines with wider tracks and a new rear axle construction to further enhance agility and stability with no compromise to comfort.

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The powertrain line-up focuses on efficient performance and features eight Euro 5 compliant engines. All except the lowest powered units are equipped with six-speed transmissions.

One new compact automatic gearbox with Active Select function, for a clutch-free selection, will debut.






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