WHOEVER came up with the name Astra for Vauxhall’s family hatchback had prophetic tendencies. For the car has proved to be a star since it was launched 40 years – and three million UK sales – ago.

That star shines on, as the company launches a new Astra, available to order now, with the first cars arriving in showrooms in November after making its world premiere at the Frankfurt motor show this month (September 2019).

Asian Image was invited to run the rule over the latest motor before it takes its bow in Germany, travelling to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire for a presentation and test drives.

One of the UK’s top-selling and best-loved cars, the Astra is a household name for British car buyers with more than 30,000 sold last year. More than 25 per cent of British motorists have either owned or driven an Astra, so reaction to a model with significant revisions will always be felt across the market.

The 2019 Astra sets the standard for efficiency and low emissions with an all-new range of petrol and diesel powertrains. Customers will benefit from reduced CO2 and fuel consumption, as well as a series of class-leading technology and equipment.

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Hard work in the wind tunnel also made a significant contribution to the reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of up to 21 per cent versus the outgoing model. Aerodynamic benchmarks have been achieved through numerous clever measures.

They include a system where the upper and lower parts of the new car’s radiator grille automatically open and close independently of one another, further improving frontal airflow, while under-body shielding works to reduce turbulence.

There have been some mild exterior design tweaks, but the story of the new Astra is really about what lies beneath.

We are talking about engineering here, with new engines and transmissions, chassis improvements and uprated steering to improved handling at higher speeds. 

Central to the changes is that all-new range of petrol and diesel engines and a new nine-speed automatic gearbox. A seven-speed continuously variable transmission is also available.

The compact, three-cylinder, turbo petrol units are available as 1.2 and 1.4-litre. With power outputs extending from 110PS to 145PS and sweet torque from low revs, I found that the cars I drove achieved an excellent balance between performance and efficiency.

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There is also a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder diesel engine offering 105PS and 122PS. As an alternative to the standard six-speed manual gearbox, the most powerful diesel is available with the option of a new nine-speed automatic transmission, which I found smooth-shifting to the point of being imperceptible.

The new powertrains and aerodynamic improvements combine to help improve fuel consumption and cut emissions to as little as 95 g/km of CO2. Miles-per-gallon figures range from the mid-50s for the petrol engines to the mid-60s for the diesel unit.

There’s a feast of great, driver-friendly tech too including a new digital front camera, which now not only recognises vehicles, but also pedestrians, greatly improving safety.

Its traffic sign recognition can now process even more signs and show them as symbols on the display. And you will find a digital rear-view camera, available on selected models.

The new car offers a comprehensive connectivity suite. All systems are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto without the need for the customer paying subscriptions.

The top-of-the-line Multimedia Navi Pro – already featured in the Vauxhall Insignia – has an eight-inch colour touchscreen and can be operated by voice control. 

Available as an option, is the E-Call emergency call function. If needed, help is just seconds away by pressing the red button. If the seatbelt tensioners or airbags are deployed, the system automatically makes an emergency call.

Prices range from £18,885.