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201 – First sight of all-new Vauxhall Astra

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13 May 2009

Front three quarter view of Vauxhall Astra MkVI

New Vauxhall Astra takes design cues from executive Insignia model

Sleek five-door to make debut at Frankfurt

Poor old Vauxhall. Just as they start to make interesting cars – like the new Insignia and now this new Astra replacement – the company’s future is in doubt.

The parent company in the States, GM, is facing bankruptcy. And the European operation – which includes Vauxhall – is looking for a buyer. Apparently Fiat is in the frame for a tie-up.

But let’s not get sidetracked. You only have a future if you make interesting products. And this new Astra looks interesting. A stylish Astra.

It’s the sixth generation Astra in 30 years – and certainly to my eyes, the most appealing yet. The new car’s design team was led by Mark Adams, a British designer, who was also responsible for the Vauxhall Insignia.

It needs to make an impact. Half-hearted design has no place in the car world – unless you are VW in which case you have to recreate the solidity of the Golf each time you bring a new one to market. But those rules only apply to the Golf. For the rest, innovation counts.

Andy Gilson, Vauxhall’s marketing director, sounds convinced. “The only part of the Astra which isn’t new is its name. And that name currently accounts for 30% of all Vauxhall’s car sales. The five-door hatch takes 60% of those sales alone – so it’s important to lead with this body style. Not only is the Astra a crucial new model for Vauxhall, but we’re confident that its blend of dynamic design, new-to-class technology and immense driver appeal will attract an even broader spectrum of buyers in this sector.”

With sales figures like those, you can see why it’s crucial the new Astra must succeed for Vauxhall. And with Vauxhall producing cars like this, let’s hope Vauxhall can survive, too.

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Ralph Morton

Ralph Morton

Ralph Morton is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Business Car Manager (now renamed Business Motoring). Ralph writes extensively about the car and van leasing industry as well as wider fleet and company car issues. A former editor of What Car?, Ralph is a vastly experienced writer and editor and has been writing about the automotive sector for over 35 years.

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