General Motors has redesigned one of its mainstays in Europe, the Astra hatchback and wagon which is sold under an Opel on the continent and Vauxhall in the United Kingdom. The 2016 Astra and Astra Sports Tourer are built on a new architecture that is more than 400 pounds lighter than the previous generation and offers a host of new features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

"Our new Astra Sports tourer and our new Astra hatchback-they are two sides of the same coin," said Opel Group ceo Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. "Both represent a quantum leap for Opel and for the compact class. Apart from offering ultramodern connectivity and evolutionary design, the station wagon version focuses even more on efficiency."

A wide range of powertrains offer 95 to 200 horsepower in displacements of 1.0, 1.4 and 1.6 liters. A 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel tuned to produce 95, 110 and 136 horsepower. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on all models.

Also: Class of 2016 -- New Cars Ready to Roll

New design direction 

The styling of the new Astra reflects Opel's design philosophy of "Sculptural Artistry meets German Precision" which is intended to convey a lighter, more athletic appearance. The new double grille bar and grille flow seamlessly into the matrix headlights. A split C-pillar design gives the appearance of a floating roof.

While the hatchback is slightly smaller than the model it replaces and the wagon the same size, both models offer improved interior space, particularly in the rear seating area, thanks to the new architecture. Among the new features on the Sport Tourer is a 40/20/40 split rear seat and a rear hatch that opens automatically when you pass your foot beneath the rear bumper.

A future Buick?

As GM looks to further expand its Buick portfolio in both the United States and China, there are rumors that the Astra could be a possible candidate for either export to America or production here. Buick already is preparing the Cascada convertible for a U.S. launch and once that pipeline is open, there remains the possibility of an Astra hatch or the larger Sport Tourer joining the lineup.

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