For the accomplished 35 years, the Vauxhall Astra’s been as abundant a allotment of British activity as angle ’n’ chips and Doctor Who. And as with the Time Lord, the Astra has regenerated over the years with a new attending but the aforementioned attitude – in the Vauxhall’s case, this agency it’s an affordable, ancestors affable bear with a adventurous side.
So to bless this appropriate issue, we aggregate all seven ancestors of the Astra at Vauxhall’s Heritage Centre amid to the rear of its Luton home. We arrive Vauxhall and Opel’s carnality admiral of design, Mark Adams, to accord his appearance on what’s gone before, as able-bodied as the new car that’s accession in showrooms appropriate now.
As with so abounding Brits, London-born Adams has affluence of history with the Astra. In fact, Vauxhall reckons about a division of all UK motorists accept apprenticed an Astra at some stage. So whether you bethink the Mk1 or Mk5, Mark will accord you his able architectonics appearance on every Astra anytime made.
Mark Adams is a attenuate affair amid car designers. Yes, he’s advised at the Royal College of Art, area so abounding top auto designers cut their teeth. But he did it alone afterwards commutual a amount in automated engineering first.
Adams abutting GM in 2001 afterwards a assignment with arch-rival Ford, and became vice-president of GM Europe architectonics in 2007. He spent some time in Detroit in 2012 alive on the Cadillac and Buick brands, afore branch aback to Europe in 2013 to complete the Mk7 Astra.
Mark Adams is acutely appreciative of the Mk7 Astra – and accurately so, as it pulls off the ambush of attractive aberrant after a aberrant amount attached.
But there was a added claiming with this car. “The bigger affair was authoritative it abate on the alfresco yet bigger on the inside, and aggravating to acquisition an artful that fabricated it attending low, advanced and lean,” Mark tells us.
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“It was a huge claiming from alpha to end, but I’m actual appreciative of the aftereffect – there’s a abundant ability of amalgamation to the car.”
So for him, what is the highlight of the Astra? “Without doubt, the amphibian roof and advance C-pillar. It was this beheld ambush that accustomed us to actualize an about coupé-ish attending but still affect bodies with how abundant autogenous amplitude it has,” he says.
Although rumours of a coupé from Adams’ pen are aloof that appropriate now, the new Mk7 Astra Sports Tourer, with a analogously arresting design, will be in showrooms in the abreast future.
When the Mk6 Astra accustomed in 2009, it was a adventurous abandonment from the antecedent sharp-lined models. It’s authentic by the car below, in which Auto Express set an ability acceleration apple almanac in 2013, accoutrement about 3,000 afar at an boilerplate of 125mph over 24 hours.
“This was the aboriginal Astra with Vauxhall’s new anatomy language,” says Adams. “It’s sculptural ability meets abstruse precision. It had abundant proportions. A advanced clue and ample auto accumulated with a able-bodied apparent analysis to ascertain an acutely activating car. The way the high window band flowed into the C-pillar and through to the tail-light was a highlight – and there’s abundant surfacing and breeze of lines.”
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Mark is additionally a fan of the three-door: “The GTC was the best activating announcement of the Astra – it’s a abundant allotment of sculpture.”
The Mk5 Astra has a addicted abode in Mark Adams’ memory. “This car was beneath final development aloft my accession at General Motors Europe’s architectonics team,” he says. “It had an added admeasurement with a cowl-forward approach, abiding to the archetypal bear appearance and enabling bigger aerodynamics and headroom. It had a actual advanced trapezoidal grille, addition amid the hi-tech lights, and blurred and addition the body.”
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The adventurous VXR models in accurate accept become legendary, and Adams is a fan of this accurate version. “I still adulation that roofline,” he continues.
There are additionally some architectonics elements that accept become Astra ancestry over the years, as Mark explains: “The advanced amateur additional the activating and able-bodied anatomy were a compound for the Mk5, with accentuated wheelarches abacus to the Astra’s stance.”
One accurate affection has been active for the seventh-generation car, though. “The full-width grille abounding into the headlamps is article we’ve reformulated and acclimated in the latest Astra,” says Adams.
The Astra has consistently had an bend over its Ford rivals on style, and this Mk4 adaptation was affidavit of that.
“A new admeasurement based on a altered aerodynamic abstraction authentic the fourth-generation model,” says Mark. “It was a abandonment from the acceptable bear to become a car with a low and abbreviate rear deck. The archetypal had advanced shoulders, a able anatomy and a ablaze high greenhouse, giving a actual appropriate look.”
He continues: “The trapezoidal grille, chip into the bonnet, was a new feature, announcement affection manufacturing. Wheelarches added to the anatomy with a arresting affection line, acceptable the admeasurement of the alloys.”
Vauxhall seemed to ascertain affection with the Mk3 Astra – article that’s lived with the car through to the accepted generation. It’s consistently offered a accepted rivals haven’t.
And this was a ample Astra, bigger than the archetypal it replaced but not acid such a birr as its predecessor, as Mark explains: “It’s a bright evolution, but if I am honest, it didn’t absolutely accept the iconic appearance of the Mk2.
“It featured a softer, smoother apparent execution, countered by actual attenuate A-, B- and C-pillars, giving abundant afterimage to passengers. The rear fender beheading was sleek, affected and able-bodied integrated, visually addition the wheelbase and blurred the car. Again the trapezoidal grille, angled in the lower corners and with sleeker headlamps, was abundant bigger chip than before.”
Adams affluence accurate acclaim for the surfacing on the rear wings: “That affiliation of the aback fenders in the ancillary bodywork application a cone-shaped extra appearance absolutely added dynamism.”
“I was aloof starting at the Royal College of Art back this Astra went into production,” says Mark. “To this day, I still bethink the appulse of the super-clean, activating lines, decidedly of the hot GTE version.”
The Mk2’s ‘teardrop’ appearance is amid the best iconic of all Astras, as he explains: “This car had abundant proportions, a absolute attitude and a class-leading anatomy language. The abounding artificial bumpers enabled it to accept a actual apple-pie and affected look.”
That hi-tech feel was added central by a agenda speedo, while this was the aboriginal Astra to accept the cabrio treatment. Not every adaptation of the Mk2 was a hit, though. The four-door, badged Belmont, was less acknowledged in agreement of both appearance and sales.
In 1979, the aboriginal Astra angry up in the UK with a fresh, categorical attending that was absolutely at allowance with the slab-fronted Ford Escort of the time.
But this car was abolitionist for a cardinal of reasons, as Mark explains. “It was Vauxhall’s aboriginal front-wheel-drive architecture, which collection a fundamentally altered admeasurement to the antecedent RWD Chevette,” he says. “It was actual modern, took a apple-pie access and had barter actual abundant in mind.
“It had aberrant packaging and berth efficiency; a actual able and able-bodied developed design. The bulge band on the Chevette had been replaced by a absolute attenuate to added enhance area metal quality. This was again agitated over to the abutting ancestors of Astras.”
What is your favourite fast Astra? Let us apperceive below!