We'll have to wait until the Moscow show to see the Astra's new front (Opel has only issued rear shots of the new Sedan)
A GM executive spoke to just-auto in June, answering questions concerning various Opel and Vauxhall products. Following changes such as the Astra facelifts having being brought forward from the Paris show to Moscow, the original article has been updated.
The most recently launched Opel/Vauxhall, the Astra OPC/VXR will not be available in either five-door hatchback or wagon form - a contrasting strategy to Ford of Europe's plans for the new Focus ST. The UK will be the car's largest market, with the 280PS turbocharged hatchback expected to take some 10% of all three-door Astra sales next year. Underlining the importance of Britain to GM Europe, the VXR launch event took place ahead of the media preview of its twin, the Opel Astra OPC. This was also the case with the three-door Astra line last year.
Next up for Opel will be the debut of the Astra sedan at the Moscow motor show in late August. The old-shape car has been out of sync with the current three-door (GTC), five-door and wagon (Sports Tourer) for some years. Facelifted versions of the five door and Sports Tourer will also be revealed at the Moscow show. As the GTC is still less than a year old, it will not have the styling update.
The sedan will be limited to certain markets where the current car does well: Russia, Turkey and Ireland, plus others in central, eastern and southern Europe. Ergo, there will be no Vauxhall Astra saloon.
The Moscow show also sees the world premiere of Opel's 1,598cc direction injection, turbocharged petrol engine. Linked to a stop-start system and boasting up to 300Nm of torque, this is the first version of the one of three new GM engine families. Production of this, the Ecotec 1.6, gets underway in late 2012. Opel believes Russia will be one of the biggest markets for the new unit.
An Astra-based convertible which Vauxhall and Opel believe will be a premium-priced rival for the Volkswagen Eos and Golf Cabriolet will be launched at the 2013 Geneva motor show. The Calibra and Manta model names have been suggested but this as yet remains speculative. Project G3700 will be built at the Gliwice plant in Poland.
Given the potential profitability of such variants, it seems odd that there are no plans for OPC and VXR versions of the Adam, but this is what just-auto was told back in June. This rival for the Mini and Citroën DS3 will be revealed at the Paris show in late September.
Those who had believed that a new Corsa would shortly follow the launch of the Adam will be intrigued to learn that the next model is not scheduled to appear until 2014. This, the S4500 project, is due to be built as a three-door alongside the Adam at Eisenach in Germany, and as a five-door at Figuerelas (Zaragoza) in Spain. It will use an update of GM's Gamma architecture.
The current Corsa was launched in October 2006 and had a facelift in January 2011. A 2014 launch is later than had originally been expected but it still makes sense as this gets it onto the market a year ahead of the next Polo and Fiesta. Another facelift for the current model might, however, be needed before then to keep the car competitive against the Peugeot 208 and the fourth generation Clio (Paris show launch).
At the other end of the Opel-Vauxhall model range, an update for the Insignia is well overdue. The car continues to sell well in the UK in particular despite having had no styling refresh since its launch at the London motor show in July 2008. The Rüsselsheim-built sedan, five-door and Sports Tourer should gain a simliar front end to the Ampera and Zafira Tourer in 2013.
As for the Agila, this will continue to be sourced from Magyar Suzuki's Esztergom plant in Hungary for a few years more. Its replacement is said to be currently under development in Rüsselsheim on GM's new global small car architecture.
SUVs and crossovers also figure large in Vauxhall and Opel's plans. The Mokka, a rival for the Škoda Yeti, is expected to become a major model for Vauxhall at least, which might surprise some. GM Korea's Bupyeong plant will begin building it from late in the third quarter. The closely related Buick Enclave, and Chevrolet and Holden Trax variants will come down the same line.
C205, the Antara replacement, is due in 2014, by which time the current model will be eight years old. Antara II is said to be under development at Opel with the Delta 2/GCV platform as its basis. Whilst the current model is closely related to the Chevrolet Captiva, the next Antara should look quite different and may be built at an Opel plant rather than by GM Korea.
Finally, despite the recent loss of engineering chief Rita Forst and a newly savage savage cost-cutting regime within both divisions, Opel and Vauxhall are still expected to launch a production version of the RAK e in 2013. This plug-in city car was revealed as a concept at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2011. Production volumes would be small, and so rumours that the vehicle could be built by KTM subsidiary Kiska in Salzburg may prove correct.
Author: Glenn Brooks