The next-generation 2015 Holden Astra, a car critical to the Lion-badged brand’s bold plan to usurp Toyota at the top of the Australian sales charts by 2020, has been caught once again by our spy photographers in Europe.
The car seen here is the Opel version in heavy disguise, preparing for high-speed testing in its native Germany at the Nürburgring ahead of its expected premiere at the Paris motor show this October.
Beneath the test car’s cladding it is possible to make out a pronounced contour line running down each door melded with a more angular and aggressive design language front and rear than on the current model. Expect the car to take (loose) inspiration from the 2013 Opel Monza concept.
Judging by the aggressive alloy wheels, the car testing is a sporty or high-spec version. Expect to see Sports Tourer and GTC coupe version in time.
No images of the car’s interior have been snapped at this point, though it is expected the new model will ditch the button-heavy layout of the current car in favour of a new touch-screen media system.
Under the skin sits General Motors’ new D2XX small-car platform that will also underpin the new Cruze. This modular architecture will not only cut costs through economy of scale, but also weight: the new Astra is expected to be between 50 and 100 kilograms lighter than before.
Power will come from members of GM’s new Ecotec three- and four-cylinder turbo engine range, bringing improved performance and economy.
As we know, it is near-certain that the next Astra will also come to Australia with Holden badges, marking yet another return for the familiar nameplate that made way for the Cruze in 2009, and returned for a brief 12-month spell between August 2012 and 2013 as part of the failed venture to sell Opels in Australia.
Holden will still tell you that public brand recognition for the Astra badge is high, perhaps even higher than that of the (Australian-made until 2017) Cruze.
One thing that remains unclear is whether the Astra will sell alongside the (current and next-generation alike) Cruze or supplant it. So long as the Australian dollar remains relatively strong against the Euro, the Astra need not attract too much of a premium.
Holden is committed to producing the current Cruze here until it closes its South Australian plant at the end of 2017, making it possible for this new Astra to sell alongside this car for at least 12 months, with the latter potentially sold as a budget proposition as a Cruze ‘Classic’.
Whether the next-generation Cruze comes here remains to be seen. Holden could take a similar approach to Hyundai with its i30 and Elantra twins, and sell the Astra as a hatch and coupe (and possibly a wagon) and the Cruze as its sedan option.
Holden has already announced it will offer numerous Opel/Vauxhall models, including performance versions of the Astra and Insignia, plus the Cascada convertible. Holden is also on record saying it will scour the GM universe to get the best cars here.
The Astra will be the lynchpin of GM’s plan to turn around its dire situation in Europe. In recent times it has pulled Chevrolet from the continent to focus on Opel (Vauxhall in the UK) and propped it up through years of losses. In April 2013, GM poured $5.7 billion into the company to 2016.
As part of its DRIVE2022 10-year plan, the company plans to launch at least 27 new products and 17 new drivetrains between this year and 2018. The goal is to return to the black by 2016 and become Europe’s second top-selling brand behind Volkswagen by 2018.