The fully electric Vauxhall Astra will go on sale in 2023 | Top Gear
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The fully electric Vauxhall Astra will go on sale in 2023

Plus: more details on the petrol, diesel and hybrid versions of the Mk8 Astra

Published: 01 Sep 2021
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Anybody else of the opinion that the Mk4 Vauxhall Astra split us into an alternate Astra design timeline? No? Perhaps we’ve been staring at this new eighth-generation car for too long. Perhaps we've been staring at Vauxhall Astras for too long. Maybe we’ve just been hypnotised by the VIZOR face.

Still, we can’t escape the fact that with its sharper, more rectangular face – which is actually called ‘Vizor’ – this is a truer continuation of the Mk3. Anyway, here it is, the car that aims to prove family hatchbacks still matter in a world increasingly beset by crossovers and SUVs.

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As you very well know, Vauxhall has joined the Stellantis cinematic universe, and so this new Astra sits on the EMP2 platform that also underpins the Peugeot 308. It’s only a smidgen longer than the Mk7 Astra but gains more in the wheelbase. That ‘Vizor’ front – first seen on the Mokka and now The Official Face Of Vauxhall – is a striking affair, allied to sharper lines and creases outlining the handsome new hatch. Yes, we’re still talking about a Vauxhall Astra.

Being an Astra means it gets a wealth of drivetrain options, and for the first time in its history, will be offered as a fully electric variant – yup, never saw that one coming. No details are yet available on that because it won’t be launched until 2023, but there’s plenty to digest before then, including an estate ('Sport Tourer') that arrives in 2022.

A 222bhp plug-in hybrid matches a 1.6-litre petrol to an electric motor and eight-speed auto ‘box. There's the same engine again, only with 177bhp. Both offer 0-62mph times of 7.7s and 7.9s respectively, 146mph and 140mph top speeds, and the ability to drive up to 35 miles on battery power alone.

Other engines arrive in the shape of a 1.2-litre petrol three-cylinder with 108bhp and 128bhp, or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel with 128bhp. These come with your choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed auto.

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Vauxhall tells us it imprinted its DNA into the EMP2 platform from the beginning – “handling is composed as well as dynamic” – and the Mk8 comes with a McPherson strut front setup and a torsion bar at the rear (lesser-powered Focus models get the same, don’t forget). But there’s been a bit of a quantum leap inside.

In terms of hardware, the seats have been specifically certified for comfort and ergonomics, and there is indeed a steering wheel and some pedals. But everything else – barring a small row of physical buttons beneath the central screen – is digital.

A pair of 10in displays take centre stage, integrated so as to look like one big screen. There’s voice recognition. CarPlay and Android Auto. Assistance in the form of a HUD and “semi-automated Intelli-Drive”. Active lane positioning, traffic sign recognition, long-range blind spot detection and a 360-degree camera that helps facilitate much of it.

“The new Astra represents the exciting next step of our new design execution,” explains Vauxhall design vice president Mark Adams. It’s certainly a very confident look. Now, just like that Mk3, we need a GSi version…

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