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LIVE: 2016 Opel Astra

by Drew Johnson

Aimed right at the Golf, Opel\'s latest small car ushers in OnStar in Europe.

The all-new 2016 Opel Astra has made its official debut at a small media event held in Paris, France.

Starting with the same platform that underpins the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, Opel engineers have managed to shave a significant amount of weight from the Astra's relatively small frame. Depending on spec, the new Astra is between 264 pounds and 485 pounds lighter than the model currently sitting in Opel showrooms.

Base engines in the new Astra consist of a 1.6-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder available with either 90, 110 or 136 horsepower, and a 1.0-liter gasoline-burning three-cylinder with direct-injection and turbocharging technologies. Also found under the hood of the Adam and the Corsa, the triple has been tweaked to develop 105 horsepower.

A brand new mid-level turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine derived from the three-pot is also offered. It delivers 145 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque in its most potent application. Opel will eventually offer a range-topping version of the Astra with a 200-horsepower twin-turbocharged engine.

On the styling front, the new Astra borrows many of its design cues from the Monza Concept that was presented at the 2013 edition of the Frankfurt Motor Show. Signature elements include headlights that flow into the hatchback's radiator grill to emphasize its width, a rising belt line with a pronounced "blade” at the rear and a divided C-pillar intended to give the illusion of a floating roof. The new Astra is about five centimeters shorter than the outgoing model.

Passenger- and tech-focusedDespite its smaller footprint, the Astra is actually noticeably larger on the inside, it offers better visibility and designers have made it easier to get in and out of. Passengers also benefit from Opel's latest IntelliLink infotainment system, which offers a built-in 4G LTE hot spot and is now compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Other creature comforts include front seats with a massaging function and heated outboard rear seats, two firsts in the nameplate's long history.

The Astra ushers in the European version of General Motors' OnStar service. All models regardless of trim level come pre-equipped with OnStar, and it is free for the first year. How much it will cost after that has not been announced yet and it will likely vary from country to country, though Opel told us it should cost less than a hundred euros (about $110) a year.

OnStar is debuting on the Astra, but all members of the Opel lineup from the tiny Karl to the Insignia Country Tourer flagship will be offered with the technology in the coming months.

The new Astra introduces Opel's IntelliLux LED system to the compact segment. Consisting of eight LED segments in each of the Astra's headlights, the IntelliLux LED system, which works with the car's on-board camera, is capable of deactivating certain sections of lights based on oncoming traffic. As a result, the Astra's high beams can stay on all the time without blinding other motorists.

"Three values are decisive for the new Astra - efficiency, innovation and dynamic performance,” summed up Opel Group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. "Our engineers developed it from the proverbial white sheet of paper.”

No pricing information was released, but we expect to learn more on that front closer to the Astra's public debut in Frankfurt. When it goes on sale, the 2016 Opel Astra will fight in the same arena as the Volkswagen Golf, the Ford Focus and the Peugeot 308.

Live images by Ronan Glon.

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