One of the oldest cars in Europe's hugely competitive compact segment is switching to the next generation, bringing a completely new design inside and out along with overhauled underpinnings. Once again assembled at home in Rüsselsheim, the sixth iteration of Vauxhall/Opel's popular Astra has all the ingredients to go up against the giants in this class: Golf, Focus, Megane, and the Octavia.
It also has to do battle with the mechanically related Peugeot 308, with the two sharing the EMP2 platform as both brands are part of Stellantis – the world's fourth-largest car manufacturer. Even though their bones are quite similar, the designers have done a great job at differentiating the two compact hatchbacks. The French version takes a bolder approach whereas its German cousin plays it safe with a cleaner appearance.
Gallery: Vauxhall Astra (2021)
Let's talk size. The new Astra has been stretched by four millimetres (0.15 inches) over the outgoing generation and is now 4,374 mm (172.1 in) long. Even though the overall length has barely changed, the wheelbase has been stretched significantly by 13 mm (0.5 in) to 2,675 mm (105.3 in) by shortening the front overhang. Width has increased quite a bit, at 1,860 mm (73.2 in) or about 51 mm (2 in) more than before.
Vauxhall/Opel goes as far as to say the hatchback has "coupe-like" lines, although some will beg to differ. A new Astra GTC would be nice, but given the current demand for three-door hatches, we wouldn't necessarily count on it. The car's increased footprint pays dividends in terms of cargo capacity on the adjustable load floor as it has grown by 52 litres (1.83 cubic feet) to 422 litres (14.9 cu ft) with the rear seats in place.
Much like the exterior, the cabin is a vast departure from the Astra K by adopting the less-is-more approach with few conventional buttons. You still have shortcuts for often-used functions, but most of the settings are accessed through the 10-inch touchscreen of the infotainment system. To its left, a fully digital instrument cluster has the same size.
As you would expect from a totally new car, Vauxhall/Opel's new C-segment hatchback is brimming with tech. It gets the matrix LED technology from the flagship Insignia, with no fewer than 84 light-emitting diodes per headlight cluster. Cruise control with stop & go is available, as are a head-up display and a 360-degree camera.
Vauxhall/Opel doesn't go too deep with details about the powertrains, but you can imagine these will be quite similar to those of the new Peugeot 308. The German brand does confirm the 2022 Astra will be available with a choice of petrol and diesel units with output varying from 109 bhp (81 kW) to 221 bhp (165 kW). For the very first time, a plug-in hybrid setup will be available and will come in two configurations. Depending on the powertrain, six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions will be offered.
The order books will open this fall and the first customer deliveries are scheduled to take place in early 2022. Vauxhall/Opel has already confirmed there will be a new estate once again for those in need of a bigger cargo area. Expect the estate variant to be revealed in the coming months. While it would make sense for the company to have both body styles on display in September at the IAA in Munich, Vauxhall/Opel has announced it will not attend the show this year.
As a final note, it's worth mentioning this will be the final Astra with combustion engines in Europe considering Vauxhall/Opel has vowed to go EV-only on the Old Continent by 2028.