Opel Astra: design story

Production Cars 23 Jun 2009
Opel Astra: design story

The official design story of the new Opel Astra, including a comprehensive set of design sketches and renderings and the first images of the interior.

Opel Astra Digital PaintingOpel has released new design-related material on the new Astra, which debuts in September at the IAA in Frankfurt.

Based on the motto "sculptural artistry and German precision", the exterior design of the new generation model boasts a strong cab-forward, fluid silhouette.

In addition to the below official release, some official videos are also available.

Exterior Design

Opel Astra Design SketchThe next generation Opel Astra has a design characterized by sculptural shapes and strong sporty lines.

Designers have taken Opel’s new philosophy – sculptural artistry combined with German precision – to the compact class. The same wing and blade styling cues first seen in the mid-sized Insignia are still given to the five-door Astra, but with a twist.

The new generation Astra has a slim but low trapezoidal grille with the bold Opel logo integrated in it.

Opel Astra Design SketchThe blade sculpted into the side panels of the new generation Astra sweeps upward and visually connects with the side windows line, giving the car balance and harmony.

Eagle eye-shaped headlamps that encompass the prominent signature wing daytime running lights emphasis the low, sporty character.

A flowing silhouette connects the new car’s muscular shoulder lines with the rear end.

“We carried forward the work we began with Insignia,” says Mark Adams, Vice President Design GM Europe. “This time we’ve given our design language a fresh expression for the compact class segment.

"Think of it as if the Insignia and Astra are members of a family. You can recognize the same gene pool, yet each car has its own personality and character.”

Opel Astra Design Sketch Opel Astra Design Sketch

Sculptural artistry is evident in the flowing forms of the design, while German precision is clearly visible in the crisp feature lines and the jewel-effect of the headlamp and rear light detailing.

Opel AstraThere are even links to Opel’s past, where the side window line and the C-pillar shape of the Opel Kadett coupé have been reinterpreted in a modern way.

“The new Opel Astra is a culmination of years of work – not just by our team, but from the sweat of the designers working on the nine previous generations of Astra and Kadett cars,” says Uwe Müller, chief designer of the Astra.

“We used some graphics from the past, but made them crisper and more modern. We revolutionized the shape by making it more sculptural.”

The new generation Astra has fast yet curvaceous lines that lend the car its sporty look.

Opel AstraIt has a strong, cab-forward silhouette with a steeply-raked windshield and falling rear roofline. Like the mid-sized Insignia, the new Astra has a muscular stance that is dynamic, elegant and purposeful without being aggressive or brash.  

The raked A-pillars flow into a diving hood-line which culminates in narrow headlamp units, housing lights mounted on a dark inner surface, adding depth and a three-dimensional quality.

The signature wing graphic on the daylight running lights sits inside sharp, eagle-eye headlamps.

The front indicator lights are now located separately in the front bumper recesses and are accented with chrome, while the neatly shaped repeater units are set into the upper front fenders.

Opel AstraA tense but crisply-executed soft shoulder line runs along the side of the body into the sculpted rear light units. Above, the car’s windows are fully encircled by a matte chrome frame, unique to the compact class, for a premium character.

Pressed into the side panel just ahead of the rear wheels is the unmistakable blade motif, echoing the distinctive design cue in the front doors of the Insignia.

On the new Astra, though, the blade swings upward in a rearward movement, providing the compact with its own identity.

Mark Adams Opel AstraIn profile, the car’s dynamic proportions are accentuated by the triangular shape of the rear side window, the falling roof, the wraparound rear screen and the upward direction of the blade feature.

They all appear to flow together to give the vehicle a sense of movement and harmony.

For the C-pillar area, the side view hints at a sporty, almost coupé look, but on opening the rear doors, the size of the Astra’s rear passenger accommodation is revealed on this five-seat compact.

Viewed from behind, the new Astra brings a dynamic visual appeal to the traditional hatchback look.

The shoulder line extends along the side of the body into the sculpted rear lights in one, continuous flow. Designers achieved the muscular rear proportions by creating strong rear body shoulders, combined with a wraparound C panel and tapered rear window.

Opel AstraThe taillight units are set apart to accentuate the width of the vehicle’s stance. Coupled with the massive, powerful shoulders and V-graphic with tapering lines, the effect is an athletic, bold and expressive view from the rear.

Seen at night, rear lamps – looking almost like four wings – mirror the contour of the front headlamps. The inner lamps also feature a double Opel signature wing graphic, giving the car a distinctive night time appearance.

The sporty appearance is enhanced with a clean, upper rear spoiler, which introduces a dynamic visual element to the upper body while improving aerodynamics.

Among the new safety features are the new, intelligent bumpers intended to minimize damage in front and rear collisions, reducing injury to pedestrians and passengers and saving money in repairs and insurance. That long, forward cab is the result.

Interior Design

Opel Astra Interior Design Opel Astra Interior Design

Echoing the flowing forms of the bodywork, the hallmark of the interior are sweeping, dynamic lines and sculptural shapes.

Opel Astra Interior Design"The Astra is a sporty car with elegant touches, while the Insignia is an elegant car with sporty touches," says John Puskar, Director of GME Interior Design.

Interior designers give an athletic look through the black interior and red ambient lighting.

Opel Astra Interior DesignThe elegant touches are evident in the chrome detailing and by incorporating high quality materials, creating a self contained island in the instrument panel.

Careful attention was paid to the tactile experience in the car. Everything touched by drivers and passengers has been given a refined, sophisticated feel. And, Opel has created two new bold interior colors – Spice Red and Ocean Blue – for a progressive nod.  

At the same time, the Astra has added well thought out practicality – through greatly increased storage – and comfort – via high quality seats.

Design consistency is underlined by Opel’s recurring wing and blade motifs that were first introduced in the Insignia and are carried forward in a new way in both the Astra’s exterior and the interior.

Opel Astra InteriorIn this execution, the blade theme is expressed in details like the gooseneck shape of the door grab handles and the trim for gearshift molding and steering wheel.

Upon opening the door, the wing design cue is immediately evident in the inviting, wraparound instrument panel that embraces front seat occupants. It arcs across the cabin into the top of the door moldings. The dashboard has a black, refined grained finish with a subtly different texture from other moldings in the car.

Opel Astra InteriorThere are very few straight lines. Instead, the lines are arched with tension and snap to bring your eyes on a wonderful journey through the interior.

Lighting points are added for warmth and a bit of theater. One example of this is the ambient lights encircling the gear shifter, symbolizing the driving dynamics of the car.

Lights are choreographed to brighten as the key is turned, sparking anticipation and excitement.

The raked windshield gives a spacious, airy ambience for the front occupants, accentuated by the small windows between the base of the A-pillars and the front doors.

Opel Astra Interior DesignThe feeling of space and depth is underpinned by a center panel, mounted at a shallow, 30º angle, which sweeps down from the top of the instrument panel to the shifter creating a beautiful flowing surface that incorporates the gearshift so that everything is in close reach of the driver.

The center console, outer air vents and gooseneck-shaped door grab handles feature premium finishes such as piano black and a lustrous aluminum trim, adding an upscale, precision quality to the interior. To reinforce the welcoming character of the cabin, special attention was paid to ambient lighting.

At night, a red diffused light is provided around the base of the shifter, in the door panels and in the overhead center console.  

Opel Astra Interior RenderingLike the Insignia, the Astra’s speedometer, tachometer and temperature and fuel gauges are ringed with chrome, like a chronometer, to emote a technical, sporty ambiance. Emphasizing a driver focus, the large speedometer and tachometer pods are both angled slightly inwards toward each other.

Four interior trim levels are offered with the new Astra – Essentia, Enjoy, Sport and Cosmo – providing customers with a wide decor choice for the front fascia, center stack, door panels and seat upholstery. Essentia provides a balanced, harmonious look; Enjoy exudes a youthful, modern feel; Sport is fun and dynamic, while Cosmo gives out an elegant ambience.

While the cabin’s core color theme is a neutral black across all trim ranges. The door panels and upholstery also feature the chosen color blended into the fabric and stitching.

Opel Astra InteriorThe New Astra’s cabin has many storage spaces, include door pockets able to accommodate a1.5-liter bottle; a place for an MP3 player or iPod in the center console; a mini glove box on the driver’s side and an optional pull-out drawer under the front passenger seat.

Engineers have also developed a three-way adjustable floor in the trunk for extra flexibility. This enables owners, for instance, to hide items in a false floor, or, when it is fitted at the lowest position, stash up to 370 liters of luggage, groceries and sport equipment.

The seats on the new Opel Astra have a wide range of possible adjustments, including a height adjustment range of 65 mm and a length adjustment range of 280mm, allowing all drivers and passengers to find their ideal seating position.

(Source: Opel)

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