30 Years Opel Astra: Compact Bestseller and Ambassador of Change
- New name, same mission: Astra continues Kadett-tradition of pioneering innovation
- Five generations of success: Almost 15 million Astra F - K sold to date
- People’s favourite: Each Astra-generation a hit at dealerships and motor shows
- Serial democratisation: Astra models bring premium technologies to compact class
- All-new Astra as plug-in hybrid: With electric drive as well as diesel and petrol engines
Rüsselsheim. In 1991 the Opel Astra inherited the tradition of pioneering innovations in the compact car market segment and making them accessible for the broader public from the Opel Kadett. Together with its predecessor, and more than any other model, the Astra has become the ambassador of change for the Opel brand, carrying important messages from the carmaker to the outside world. These include expressive design, versatility and dynamic driving, as well as excitement, approachability and German precision.
In tune with the times: Astra nameplate debuts in 1991
When the Opel Astra made its world premiere in 1991, the world was in a state of flux. The new generation of Opel’s compact model totally embodied the spirit of change. It acquired a new name – Astra, like its British Vauxhall stablemate – and a wealth of newly developed safety systems, such as front seatbelt tensioners. Known internally as the Astra F, it also focussed on environmental compatibility, with a high level of recyclability that took a big step toward closing the loop in raw materials. Buyers flocked to dealer showrooms. With Opel producing around 4.13 million units between 1991 and 1997, the Astra F is the brand’s bestselling model so far.
1997: Hollywood comes to Rüsselsheim with Astra G
The success of the Astra F made it a tough act to follow, so when it came to the next generation Opel looked “outside the box” for inspiration. For example, the styling team created the Astra G with the help of the film “Jurassic Park”. Which is not to say that the model was cloned from dinosaur DNA. Rather that the designers used a computer-assisted design (CAD) programme called ALIAS that had originally been developed for computer-animated films such as the Hollywood blockbuster. The software enabled the team to work on the new model in a virtual, three-dimensional environment.
The Astra H itself achieved almost blockbuster status in 2003. During the premiere of the third-generation model at the Frankfurt IAA, the respected German car magazine “auto motor und sport” asked readers what compact car they liked best at the show. The new Opel won overwhelmingly with 52 per cent of the vote.
With the fourth generation Opel skipped the letter “I” to avoid confusion with the numeral “1”. Thus it was the Astra J that in 2009 took advanced technologies from the successful midsize Opel Insignia and brought them to the compact class for the first time. Thanks to AFL+ headlamps, the Astra could look around corners, while the Opel eye front camera not only recognized traffic signs it could also warn drivers if they were at risk of veering out of lane.
Lighting the way: With Intelli-Lux LED® matrix headlamps to Car of The Year award
Continuing the long-standing tradition, the Astra K also stood out with its lighting technology. The “European Car Of The Year 2016” was the first to introduce adaptive Intelli-Lux LED® matrix headlamps – until then reserved for luxury and premium models from higher classes – into the compact segment. In addition, the new Astra K once again delivered on wellness with the introduction of ergonomic front seats certified by the AGR (Aktion Gesunder Rücken/Campaign for Healthier Backs). The seats could even be enhanced with ventilation and massage functions, similar to today’s all-new Astra.
Six of the best: Astra from 1991 to 2021
With the announcement of the 2021 model, the Opel Astra enters its sixth generation and begins another new era. For the first time, the compact class car will be available with electric drive, as a plug-in hybrid in two performance levels. In addition, there will be versions with highly efficient petrol and diesel engines. The all-new Opel Astra is also a design statement for the German carmaker – bold and pure, with the new Opel Vizor brand face and the Pure Panel digital cockpit.