General Motors Europe's Opel-Vauxhall published the first pictures of its important Astra sedan, which competes in the most competitive European sector led by Volkswagen's Golf and the Ford Focus.
The Astra needs to succeed if Opel-Vauxhall is to return to profit as promised by 2016. The company has lost a barely imaginable $18 billion since 1999.
Buyers of the new Astra will be able to choose the personal connectivity and service assistant OnStar, and the new generation IntelliLink infotainment system that is compatible with Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay.
The seventh-generation Astra will be produced at the Ellesmere Port factory in Cheshire, north-west England, and will go on sale shortly after its debut at the Frankfurt Car Show in September.
The Astra will offer gasoline and diesel engines ranging from 99 hp to 197 hp. Highlight of the range is a new 1.4-liter, 143 hp direct injection four-cylinder motor. The new Astra is slightly smaller and lower than the previous model, but has more room inside, according to the company. The car is significantly lighter too.
U.S. cars buyers will be familiar with OnStar. If an airbag deploys, OnStar is alerted automatically. An adviser will then contact the vehicle to determine whether help is required. If there is no response, emergency responders are immediately sent to the exact location of the vehicle. OnStar turns the new Astra into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Up to seven devices, from smart-phones to tablets, can be connected simultaneously.
Other technology options include Lane Departure Warning, Collision Alert with Collision Imminent Braking and Advanced Park Assist.
Anyone trading down from a premium vehicle will be surprised to find they can buy seats with a massage function, while rear passengers can also look forward to more comfort with heated seats.
In 2013, Opel-Vauxhall announced a $5.25 billion investment plan through 2016 to develop 23 vehicles and 13 engines. This was expanded to a total of 27 new models and 17 engines between 2014 through 2018.
GM Europe president Karl-Thomas Neumann's "DRIVE!2022" strategy, includes European market share rising to eight per cent by 2022 from 5.8 per cent in 2013, and seizing second place in the market share stakes by jumping over Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Hyundai and Ford, behind market leader Volkswagen of Germany.