THE Vauxhall Astra is a bit like the Royal Family.
We’re still fond of it – it’s a British institution – but it’s less relevant now.
Once upon a time, Astra ruled the road, in the same way the Prime Minister wouldn’t make a cup of tea without asking the monarch first.
But when was the last time you saw a new Astra?
I don’t remember either.
It hasn’t troubled the top-ten sales charts for ages.
So good on Vauxhall for sticking with Astra because, like Her Maj, we don’t want to see it go.
It’s a symbolically important car, a figurehead.
There’s no stopping the tsunami of crossovers any time soon but I reckon there is still a place for hatchbacks on our roads
They are better for mpg, for starters, and some of us still prefer to nip about in something low and light that feels more connected to the road.
The eighth-gen Astra will be unveiled next month but these teaser photos tell us pretty much everything we need to know.
The Astra adopts the “Vizor” – like motorcycle visor – first seen on the new Mokka.
It stretches across the front of the car integrating the lights and sensors, the eyes of the car.
The cabin is much like Mokka too: Twin-screen dash and all sorts of driver assistance, but with good old-fashioned buttons for things we use most, like air con.
Plus there’s more space in all directions.
It was designed by Brit Mark Adams.
Ironically, the Grandland – the car slowly killing off the hatchback – is getting the same Vizor front grille and digital overhaul inside.
Vauxhall also confirmed Astra v8 would continue as a five-door hatch and Sports Tourer estate. Excellent.
There’ll be plain old petrol and diesel from launch in October, as well as a plug-in hybrid capable of 36 miles of pure-electric driving.
Good news for VXR fans: There’s a sporty plug-in hybrid in the pipeline too. Pure-electric Astra-e to follow in 2023.
Prices for the 1.2-litre petrol will start around £21k. Vauxhall won’t confirm this next bit to me but I’ve done the maths.
Astra probably won’t be built in the UK any more. The numbers don’t add up.
But that doesn’t mean the Ellesmere Port plant will close after 56 years making Viva, Chevette and Astra.
It is likely to be tooled up for something else – probably vans – for the Stellantis Group that owns Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and more.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Astra.
I learned to drive in one, as did many of you lot, no doubt.
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My old girl had a white Mk2 GTE: 2-litre, 16v, 148hp, digital dash.
Proper Eighties royalty.
Let’s hope the new Astra does it proud.