Still in camouflage: The first electrified Astra generation in Opel history celebrates its world premiere at the end of August. Sales start in late autumn, and the first models will be in dealers' showrooms in early 2022. 60 media representatives were already able to test the pre-production vehicles.

Makes you want more

It’s a bit like inviting some of the guests to a big dinner that you’ve been preparing for a long time to a pre-dinner the night before: “Not everything has been fine-tuned down to the last detail yet, the main course is still simmering,” says Andreas Holl, glancing in the rear-view mirror. The engineer responsible for the driving dynamics of the new Astra is leading the convoy of a validation drive on this Thursday morning. Behind him: the new Opel Astra. Or rather, two pre-production vehicles of the compact model, still camouflaged in black and yellow “Cube” foil. The degree of maturity: about 80 per cent. “We are in phase two of four – so half-time for fine-tuning and calibrating the chassis, transmission and steering,” he explains.

Anything but ordinary

Normally, this type of validation drive is reserved for senior engineers and top management – but over the course of two weeks, the Rüsselsheim-based carmaker invited 60 journalists from opinion-forming media to join them. “Not many carmakers dare to do this. Actually, very few do,” says Andreas Holl. “But we made a conscious decision to do so. Because this approachability and authenticity are what distinguish the Opel brand.”

“This approachability and authenticity are what distinguish the Opel brand.”

– Andreas Holl–

Convoy with Opel’s flagship Insignia: Two Astra pre-production vehicles – a turbo petrol engine with manual transmission and a plug-in hybrid with automatic transmission. 
The route scout: Stefan Velten has put together a route on which the Astra can best demonstrate its driving dynamics qualities.

“A route that is rough, full of cracks, grooves and bumps – perfect!”

– Stefan Velten –

No compromises: The new Astra continues the electrification and product offensive. For the first time in its history, the compact model will also be available as an electrified variant.

The Austrian guests have just left the Opel headquarters in Rüsselsheim after their validation drive, the British media representatives will arrive in half an hour. In the meantime, the pre-production vehicles are being aired, colleagues are standing by with disinfectant, more paper bags with individually wrapped snacks are being delivered – the event team has meticulously planned the two-week event, including the hygiene concept, down to the last detail. “Finally!” says Susanne Hartmann. The head of the event team beams: “We are so happy to be able to welcome guests again.” The mood in the team: anxious excitement. At last, the colleagues can again put their qualities as hosts into action, each individual can contribute his or her expertise.   

In rough surface paradise

Like Stefan Velten. His job is to find routes, perfect stretches of road for Opel driving events all over Europe. In the case of this validation drive, the task was to find a particularly bad stretch around the headquarters. “A route that is rough, with lots of bumps, transverse cracks and grooves,” he lists. The route scout found what he was looking for in the Rhein Hessen region. Between Stadecken-Elsheim and Saulheim, there is a ten-kilometre-long rough surface paradise where the chassis can show how to iron out bumps and absorb transverse cracks.

“We are happy to be able to welcome guests again – finally!”

– Susanne Hartmann –

“Made in Germany”:  The new Astra is designed and developed in Rüsselsheim – and manufactured at the headquarters.
Innovations for all: With the latest generation of the particularly slim, adaptive glare-free IntelliLux LED light, the new Opel Astra once again brings leading innovations to the compact class.

“The Opel Pure Panel is a next-level interior experience.”

– Thomas Stüber –

Before the next media representatives set off in the direction of the rough surface paradise, there are exciting insights into the development work for them. The presentation takes place in the Opel Design Center, in a cinema atmosphere. Martin Golka, Director of Product Communication, steps in front of the screen and introduces the “Opel chassis guru” Andreas Holl, as well as Thomas Stüber, the responsible Program Engineering Manager. Together, the two engineers have more than half a century of Opel expertise. On the screen, cross-sections with 422 litres of boot volume alternate with a sketch of the newly manufactured hatchback and explanations of why at Opel the term “Autobahn Proof” is synonymous with stability at high speeds combined with straight-line and cornering stability.

Exciting insights

One highlight: the digital Opel Pure Panel. “It seamlessly combines two widescreen displays under the fully glazed, horizontally stretched surface – an interior experience on the next level,” promises Thomas Stüber. The writing pads are filling up, the anticipation is growing. “It’s not just any model – for the first time in its model history, the new Astra will be available as a plug-in hybrid, giving renewed momentum to the electrification of the entire Opel portfolio,” says Martin Golka as he sends the guests off to the validation drive. Here are some of the impressions the media representatives took away from the validation drive with the new Astra “Made in Germany”.

Precision in the interior: A black cover still hides the cockpit, but Opel is already offering a glimpse of …
…the high-quality novel interior experience underneath: The digital Opel Pure Panel seamlessly combines two widescreen displays under the fully glazed surface.
Exciting insights: The tailgate is made of plastic, moulded using state-of-the-art thermoplastic technology. This enables precise design details and saves weight while maintaining high rigidity.  

MEDIA REACTIONS

“Oho!-pel! Looking good …“
AutoBild

“The new Astra is a
Rüsselsheimer through and through.”

auto motor und sport

“It is not only developed but also built at Opel’s home base.”
autozeitung.de 

“When it comes to the chassis,
no one can beat the Astra.”
focus.de

“Take this, Volkswagen.“
spiegel.de

“First impression: The Astra makes quite a leap forward!”
adac.de

“Even more dynamic
and more passionate“
autobild.es, Spanien

It is fun to drive the Astra, which has gained even more agility on the road.”
Rüsselsheimer Echo

“The car takes bumps of all kinds smoothly, while remaining sporty and very comfortable.”
welt.de

“The new Opel Astra (…) can be steered around the bends precisely and smoothly.”
autozeitung.de

“What you can already senseis a solid calibrationthat creates confidence and makes for driving fun.”
automobilwoche.de

“The Astra drives so quietly, as if it belonged to the upper class.”
spiegel.de

The new Astra shows real promise,
especially in plug-in hybrid form.”
Auto Express, UK

Things get exciting in the interior, where a completely new ambience awaits.”
stern.de

 “Purist, clean and high-quality:
The gauges and display look more like what you would expect to find in an Audi.”
spiegel.de

“The new Astra continues the (…) fresh Opel line. Successfully!”
auto motor und sport

“The Astra is more modern, more stylish and more comfortable –  and has a lot to counter its main rival, the VW Golf. In some respects it is even better.”
adac.de

“After driving the prototypes we can say:
The new Astra has the potential to assert
itself in the strong compact class.”

Auto Swiat, Polen

“We can’t wait to try the final car later this year.”
Auto Express, UK

n comparison: At 4.37 metres, the new Astra is just as long as its predecessor, but it is five centimetres wider and at 1.47 metres tall, one-and-a-half centimetres lower in height.

July 2021

Text: Tina Henze; Photos: Thorsten Weigl, Dani Heyne, Andreas Liebschner