There’s much excitement ahead of the official launch of the new Opel Astra in Europe this weekend with 50 000 of these cars already pre-ordered, threatening the Golf V’s frail market.

There’s much excitement ahead of the official launch of the new Opel Astra in Europe this weekend with 50 000 of these cars already pre-ordered, threatening the Golf V’s frail market.

Opel has been offering discounts of up to R8 200 on a package of options, including air conditioning and an on-board computer, to generate demand ahead of the March 20 showroom appearance.

Initially, five petrol and three turbo-diesel engines will be offered. The range consists of 1,4- to 2,0-litre engines with power outputs ranging from 60 kW to 150 kW.

The new powertrains are the 1,9-litre CDTI diesel and the 2,0-litre turbo petrol engines coupled as standard to a new six-speed manual transmission. Opel is also offering a five-speed manual gearbox, an automatic and Easytronic automated manual transmission.

The car features a high shoulder line, strong wedge shape, pronounced wheel arches and clear-cut window graphics. The bold face features a wide grille and three-dimensional, clear-glass headlamps.

The Astra’s chief competitor, the Volkswagen Golf V launched in October 2003, has had a lukewarm reception, which explains Opel’s aggressive strategy.

Apparently there are no plans to continue these incentives after the launch, but the special offer has prompted Volkswagen to adopt some strategies of its own. It announced that it would be adding free air conditioning to the Golf.

The new Astra has already been rated ahead of the Golf by an influential German car magazine mainly because it was the more affordable choice.

Original article from Car