Opel Astra Sedan unveiled. Is this the new Saturn Ion?

Click to enlarge

OK, time to have some fun and speculate. We already know that the Opel Astra will appear here in the US as the next Saturn Ion. Until now, Astra was available only as a hatchback, wagon, and C+C, all of which are appealing to the eye, and an improvement over the current mess wearing the Ion badge by several orders of magnitude.

We also know that for the American market, automakers insist on offering their small cars in notchback sedan form in addition to (or instead of) the other body styles. This is where the Astra/Ion saga gets interesting. Opel has unveiled a new Astra sedan for "growth markets," particularly Eastern Europe, where like the US, there is a demand for the notchbacks that don't get so much love in Western Europe, where hatches rule the roost.

The guys over at Autoblog Spanish immediately noted that this car and the Brazilian-market Chevrolet Vectra sedan are one and the same, so despite Opel releasing only two photos, we can show you what the car looks like from every angle. As small sedans go, it's quite good-looking. Much better than the Ford Focus and Nissan Versa notchbacks, if you ask us. So take a good look and familiarize yourself with this car.

We're willing to bet the farm you'll see this exact vehicle as the next Ion (assuming that remains the name). We just hope the General gives us the hatchback, too.

Related Items:
(Gallery, press release after the jump)

[Sources: Opel, Chevy Brazil via Autoblog Spanish]

Click images to enlarge

New Opel Astra Sedan:

Astra Interior Astra Interior
Note: Astra 5-door interior shown

2007 Chevrolet Vectra (Brazil)


Opel Astra: New Four-Door Sedan Targets Growing Markets

# Central and Eastern Europe: Additional body style for successful Astra range
# Production at Gliwice plant in Poland; Sales start in autumn 2007
# World premiere in Istanbul; Turkey important market

Rüsselsheim. Opel's elegant four-door Astra sedan makes its world premiere at the Istanbul Motor Show (November 3 − 12, 2006), becoming the fifth model in the bestselling Astra range alongside the five-door hatch, station wagon, three-door GTC and cabrio-coupé TwinTop variants. "This motor show is the largest in this region, and Turkey is also one of the most important sales markets for the classic compact sedan," says Alain Visser, Executive Director, European Marketing for Opel.

The Astra sedan will be produced in Gliwice, Poland, an ideal location to serve the Central and Eastern European markets for which the car has been primarily developed. The new model features a range of two gasoline and two diesel engines with output between 90 and 140 hp, and will go on sale in autumn 2007.

Notchback sedans are highly sought after in these strong, thriving markets. 67 percent of Turkish customers who purchase a compact class car, for example, choose a notchback model. In Russia, this figure is 65 percent and in Poland and South-East Europe the total is around 15 percent. With a share of approximately five percent, this body variant plays a less significant role in the compact class in Western Europe.

The new four-door sedan matches the special needs of Central and Eastern European customers while retaining the excellent characteristics of the current successful Astra range, which passed the one-million production mark last spring.

Sales of the Astra in Central and Eastern Europe rose by over 20 percent to 60,000 units in the first nine months of this year, compared to the same-year period of 2005, with more than 10,000 of these vehicles sold in Turkey alone. Opel expects additional growth in these markets with the launch of the four-door sedan.

The new sedan boasts the Astra's progressive, proportionally balanced design (length/width/height: 4618/1754/1458 mm), dynamic lines and characteristic driving dynamics, together with high safety reserves. The new model's designers adopted the long wheelbase from the station wagon (2703 mm) for generous space in the rear and a large luggage compartment (500 liters). Technological highlights from the Astra's extensive equipment range include innovations such as bi-xenon headlamps, Hill Start Assist (HSA), and the electric heater "Quickheat".

Opel continues a tradition with the new Astra notchback model, as both first-generation Astras were available with four doors and a large, separate luggage compartment.

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