We just told you about Bob Lutz' comments that the Saturn Astra is too expensive and not making any money in the U.S., but that may change when the next iteration arrives. Of course, the next Astra will debut in Europe first as an Opel (and Vauxhall in the UK), but we suspect that GM will offer it in the U.S. again, especially if the automaker can build it locally so that it's not dogged by a weak currency exchange like the current model. Though not scheduled to debut until late next year at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the fourth-gen Astra is making an appearance today in a couple of sketches released by General Motors Europe. The design is said to take direct inspiration from the new Insignia, which itself will become the next-gen Saturn Aura. The all-new Astra will be based on the Delta II platform with vehicles like the Chevy Cruze and Volt and feature a new range of fuel efficient engines, clever packaging solutions and trick technology like the Insignia's Front Camera System that recognizes road signs. Check out the sneak peeks in our gallery below.
ALL-NEW ASTRA SET TO TAKE COMPACT CLASS BY STORM IN 2009
- 5-door hatch to debut at 2009 Frankfurt Show
- All-new, highly sophisticated chassis
- New high-efficiency engines
- Leading technology evolved from Insignia
With its flowing lines and signature sculpted blade, the new Astra will carry the spirit of the Insignia into the compact class, offering customers a premium feel, while maintaining Vauxhall's value for money promise.
Inside, the premium theme will continue, with a warm, wrap-around interior and a wing-line sweep that links the instrument panel to the door.
An all-new chassis promises to maintain the Astra's reputation for class-leading dynamics, while new engines will maximise low-end torque to achieve miserly fuel consumption.
Also expect to see clever and practical features on the new Astra, taking inspiration from systems like the Corsa's FlexFix integrated carrier.
The new Astra will major on technical innovation, such as the Front Camera System used in the upcoming Insignia, which combines traffic sign recognition with a lane departure system, improving occupant safety and potentially helping drivers avoid fines.
Next generation Adaptive Front Lighting (AFL) will also be shared with the Insignia. The system adapts to different road and driving conditions by providing nine unique light beams, improving visibility and safety during night-time driving.
This will be the fourth generation of the hugely successful Astra, which has sold over 2.5 million cars in the UK during the last 27 years.
The current model kick-started Vauxhall's design renaissance when it was launched in 2004, and according to Mark Adams, GM Europe's Vice President of Design, it presented his team with serious challenges: "The present Astra already combines a high level of technical substance and emotional styling, but with the new car we are taking a big step forward in both respects, while emphasising its sporting credentials."