Vauxhall has unveiled its all-new eighth-generation Astra family hatchback that will arrive in UK showrooms next year.
With sales of the once-popular model now dwindling, engineers have gone to town to make the next-generation Astra more upmarket than before in a bid to steal back sales from more premium rivals, like Volkswagen’s Golf and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class – while all the time taking on long-standing opponents, namely the Ford Focus.
We’ve listed 10 things you really need to know about the new Astra…
Say hello to the new Astra: Vauxhall has taken the covers off its eighth-generation of the family hatchback. We reveal 10 things you need to know about the latest model that’s due to hit showrooms early next year
1. For the first time in 40 years, it’s not British
With news just last week that Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory will become an electric-van production plant also came official confirmation that, for the first time since 1981, the Astra will not be British built.
Every generation of the Vauxhall family hatchback has been produced at the Cheshire plant until now, but Ellesmere Port will no longer be the home of the Astra from 2022.
Instead, production has been moved to the city of Russelsheim in Germany, which is close to Frankfurt.
Production of the Vauxhall Astra, for the first time in its history, has been moved away from the UK. This eighth-generation model will be built at the Opel plant in Russelsheim, Germany
The first Vauxhall Astra – based on the Opel Kadett – being driven off the production line in Ellesmere Port in 1981
All seven-generations of the Astra – and the estate, or Sports Tourer, model – have been made at the UK plant
Vauxhall announced just last week that Ellesmere Port will become an electric van production site from next year. That means the Astra has to go elsewhere (picture from inside the car plant in 2021)
2. It’s a Peugeot 308
Vauxhall – and its sister European brand, Opel – is now part of the Stellantis group, which is a combination of Group PSA (owners of Peugeot and Citroen, which bought Vauxhall from General Motors in 2017) and Fiat’s holding company, FCA.
Bringing a total of 14 brands under one banner ultimately means their ranges are going to share architecture in an effort to keep costs down. This means that while your new Stellantis group car might have a different badge, it will likely be mechanically very similar to a model from an entirely different brand.
That’s certainly the case for the Astra, which will be built on the EMP2 platform, which is already used by a variety of its siblings.
That includes the new third-generation Peugeot 308.
The new Astra will be built on Stellantis’ EMP2 platform, which is shared with other models from sister brands. It means the Vauxhall family hatch will be mechanically the same as a Peugeot 308 (right)
3. It’s the first plug-in hybrid Astra – but it isn’t going fully electric just yet
Like the new Peugeot 308, the Astra will be available with a choice of two plug-in hybrid powertrains, alongside a more conventional range of petrol and diesel motors.
Both PHEVs use a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in a choice of two power outputs – either 148bhp or 178bhp.
They are mated to a 109bhp electric motor in the eight-speed automatic gearbox for a combined outputs of 178bhp and 222bhp respectively.
The 12.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack – which is stored in the chassis floor – supplies an electric-only range of around 31 miles and can be charged in less than two hours courtesy of a 7.4kW on-board charger.
This will be the first Astra to ever offer plug-in hybrid drivetrains. It will link a battery and electric motor to a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. With the battery fully charged, it should be able to cover over 30 miles in electric-only mode
For those who don’t want to plug their Astra into the mains, there is the option of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with either 108bhp or 128bhp. And Vauxhall hasn’t ditched diesel just yet, also offering a turbocharged four-cylinder oil burner with 128bhp.
All conventional internal combustion engine versions will be married to six-speed manual gearboxes as standard, though with the option of an eight-speed automatic if you’re willing to pay a little extra.
With Vauxhall announcing just days ago that it will sell only electric cars from 2028, this is guaranteed to be the final Astra sold with a combustion engine.
There is one styling feature that both the Mk1 Astra (left) and Mk2 version (right) shared that will also be used in the new eighth-gen car…
It is the vented inset in the rear window panel, which is be a nod back to the Astra’s heritage and over 40 years of availability
4. Styling has a nod to the original Astra
In terms of looks, the 2022 Astra takes a large leap into a more futuristic style.
The design team has incorporated the same ‘Vizor’ face already used on the latest Mokka-e and Grandland SUVs.
This means it gets a single black panel that runs the full width of the bonnet with LED headlight clusters flanking each end. These can be upgraded – at a cost – to more powerful ‘Intellilux’ lights, which are made up of 168 individual LED elements.
The design team has incorporated the same ‘Vizor’ face, which has already been used on the latest Mokka-e and Grandland SUVs. The single black panel across the front is flanked by LED headlights at either end
It gets a more aggressive stance courtesy of larger wheel arches, and a choice of alloy wheels in sizes 16 to 18-inches. Rim designs include the sporty two-tone versions seen on the yellow car unveiled on Tuesday.
While it does have a more forward-thinking design, there are styling elements that also look back to the past.
This includes a nod to the Opel Kadett (built at Ellesmere Port from 1979) – which went on to become the first Astra in 1981 – and the Mk2 version of the Vauxhall family hatchback. That small styling cue is the vented inset in the rear window panel.
Like all modern cars, the new Astra is longer, wider and lower than the model it replaces – meaning it will be difficult to squeeze into a domestic garage
In a bid to shave a bit of weight, the ‘ASTRA’ letters across the boot lid are no longer metal and instead made from plastic
5. ‘ASTRA’ letters across the boot lid are plastic to save weight
As with all modern cars, the dimensions have increased (read our report on the latest models being too big for garages and public parking bays).
The Astra has grown, but not by much. It now measures in at 4,374mm long and 1,860mm wide, with a wheelbase of 2,675mm. Standing 1,470mm tall, it is 15mm lower than the car it replaces.
As well as making next-gen models bigger, manufacturers are also striving to make them lighter – especially now they are heaving heavy lithium-ion battery packs along with them.
Vauxhall has gone to extreme lengths to shave a gram or two from the hatchback’s bulk. This includes changing the ‘ASTRA’ letters on the boot lid from metal to plastic.
Can you see a stick? No. That’s because Vauxhall has done away with the conventional hand brake and gear selector for automatic variants
6. It has a ‘stickless’ interior (if you buy an auto)
A first glance at the cabin images of the new Astra show a noticeable omission of the traditional gear stick and handbrake.
While the manual version will – of course – get a gearknob, the automatic version does away with the conventional stubby stick to choose drive, replacing it with a sliding selector.
As with most new models on the market, it will also have an electronic parking brake switch instead of a manual handbrake.
Removing the sticks from the cabin frees up additional room in the centre console to provide more storage space and extra cupholders.
The two 10-inch screens can be fully glazed – if you’re willing to pay extra for it. This should reduce any sunlight glare
7. All-digital dash has the option of being fully glazed
The Astra gets Vauxhall’s new fully-digital ‘Pure Panel’ cockpit from 2022.
That means most of the switches and buttons have been removed from the dashboard in place of more control via the touchscreen panel.
Both this central display and the fully-digital instrument cluster for the driver are 10 inch units, giving the Astra a more premium cabin feel.
One additional feature Vauxhall has revealed is to have these screens fully glazed, which should prevent glare and reflection when the sun is at its brightest.
8. It promises class-leading comfort with seats designed for back health
Vauxhall says it has been given awards for its super-comfortable chairs in the past, and the ‘AGR’ seats in the new Astra will offer class-leading levels of support.
AGR means they’ve been certified by Aktion Gesunder Rücken, which is a campaign for healthy backs.
Both the driver and front passenger seat is positioned 12mm lower than in the previous model to give a more sporty impression for the drive, but also ‘guarantees good posture’.
Vauxhall will be taking orders for the new Astra from this autumn, with first deliveries due in early 2022. Prices will be confirmed closer to the time, but expect to pay from £22,000 for a basic petrol and over £30k for a plug-in hybrid version
9. Want the new Astra? Prices start from £22,000 when it hits showrooms next year
Vauxhall will be taking orders from this autumn, though first deliveries won’t arrive in the UK until the start of next year.
There is currently no confirmation on pricing, but given the step up in luxury from the previous model, we’re expecting a slight increase on the Astra in showrooms today.
That means the entry version will likely cost from around £22,000, while the plug-in hybrids will start from around £30,000.
The new Astra has its works cut out if it wants to become a best-seller in Britain. It not only slipped out of the top 20 most registered models in 2020, it is less popular than the Corsa, Grandland X and Crossland X cars in Vauxhall dealerships
10. But do you really want a new Astra? Sales have fallen off a cliff in recent years
If the Astra is going to become a top seller in Britain, it has its work cut out trying to recover from the position it is currently in.
For years it has been one of the most popular new cars in the UK – but not recently.
It’s fallen so far down the pecking order that in 2020 it didn’t even make it into the list of the 20 most-registered motors.
Not only did Vauxhall dealers sell more Crossland X, Grandland X and Corsas in 2020, but it’s also low down on the shopping lists of buyers of family hatchbacks.
The BMW 1 Series, Mercedes A-Class, Ford Focus and VW Golf were bought in bigger numbers than the Astra last year.
Vauxhall will hope this more aggressive, grown-up Astra will help it to regain its position near the sharp end of UK sales charts.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.