The Truth About Cars » Astra The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:58:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Astra GM Agrees to Keep Three Opel Plants Open Through 2018 Mon, 03 Feb 2014 11:00:37 +0000 Opels being assembled in Eisenach, Germany

Opels being assembled in Eisenach, Germany

Just a few days after new GM CEO Mary Barra visited Opel’s headquarters in Ruesselsheim and said the company’s plant there will be assigned a new vehicle to build, General Motors’ Opel unit has come to an agreement with the company’s labor unions to extend until the end of 2018 a no-layoff guarantee at three German plants. According to Reuters, the Ruesselsheim factory, plants at Kaiserslautern and Eisenach will remain open. Opel also announced that the Eisenach assembly plant will build the next generation Opel Adam and Corsa models. Approximately 7,150 employees work at the three factories.

Production ends later this year at Opel’s fourth German factory in Bochum.

The agreement is a hopeful sign of better labor relations at Opel. Management and labor have differed in the recent past about how to return GM’s European unit to profitability.

“For the company and its employees this is an important step toward securing our future,” Ulrich Schumacher, Opel’s head of personnel, said in a statement.

In the labor deal, Opel promised to add another model for Ruesselsheim to build, to continue making the Adam and Corse in Eisenach and to keep the Kaiserslautern component operations going.

GM has lost an estimated $18 billion on its European operations over the last 12 years. The company says that it’s on track to break even in Europe in 2015 after a redesigned Corsa subcompact is launched late this year, and a redesigned Astra concept is introduced next year along with new gasoline and diesel engines.

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Piston Slap: The Young Lady and the Key Thu, 10 Jan 2013 19:12:54 +0000

Hi Steve and Sajeev:

My daughter has been driving the Saturn Astra recommended by Steve for a few months now and we can all say that it is a nice car — screwed together well, efficient and kinda sporty.  I consider it to be a win. Except for a minor key issue.

The original owner had a remote start installed (nice).  I have one in my Chrysler T&C and that vehicle does not require a key to be hidden in the car; the Saturn does (a GM thing, I hear). So, they buried the other ignition key inside the steering column box.

Thing is, though, is that they never got another key, so there is only one.  Not smart, IMO.  So, rather than drive 20 miles to the nearest GM dealer to buy an overpriced key, I ordered an OEM one from Fob Keyless, and they even cut it.  The key arrived and it unlocked to door and turned in the ignition fine, but it did not start the car — it needed to be programmed.

Here is the rub.  This car does not follow the typical GM procedure for key programming than most of their other cars.  I am told I have to bring it to the dealer and that I will have to present all of the keys — so that means I have to fish out the key that is buried in the dash. My question for you is this:  is that correct?  Is there a workaround that you know of? Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Sajeev Says:

A workaround for German car electrics? Surely you jest, my good man!

This website gives a quick yet comprehensive explanation of why that’ll never work. Bite the bullet, get it programmed properly either by a respected locksmith or the dealership. But either way, a trip to a GM dealership is in order.  Perhaps a phone call to make sure they can do it…might need to make multiple calls. Maybe start with a Cadillac dealer, you know, for the best customer service and knowledge of German-ish General Motors Iron.

And since you emailed Steve on a Piston Slap related topic, let’s see what insights The Man has to offer.
Steve Says:

Let me tell you a little story about an old friend and his Mercedes.

Once upon a time I knew a fellow who would buy and sell cars on the side while managing an auto repair shop. Well, one evening he decides to buy a late-80′s Mercedes E-Class at a public auction for a decent price. He gets one key for it.

Only one key. The next day he goes to pick up the vehicle. Dead battery. As soon as they put a jumper on the car the alarm blares, “BWAH!!! BWAH!!!” He tries to start it up with the key. Nothing. Not even a click. Meanwhile the alarm system is blaring like Andy Kaufman at a professional wrestling match. After 20 minutes of fiddling around he has it towed to his shop and directs one of his techs to circumvent the alarm system.

A few too many wires were cut. So for the next three months, the vehicle becomes a statue at the front of his place. Eventually it is brought back to the auction where my friend receives an expensive lesson in cutting corners.

When it comes to the Saturn, your friend is 100% right. You can go to any GM dealer. But they will need all the keys to make it work. I would do that and perhaps get a second duplicate made so you never have to do it again.

Sometimes the cheap way out is a dead end. Just pay “the man”, and let your daughter enjoy one less stress in her ownership experience.

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Poor Man’s MQB: Opel’s Next Gen Insignia Will Be An Astragnia Sat, 01 Dec 2012 03:07:39 +0000

Opel is bleeding money and has to save at all costs. Opel hoped to share development of the next generation Insignia  with PSA, but that was called off before it was even announced. According to German media reports, Opel engineers quickly developed a more cost effective solution:  A head transplant.

According to the reports, the main ingredient of the new Insignia will be the old Insignia. On its unchanged rear body, say the reports, Opel will graft the front part of the new Astra, and  presto, a new Insignia. Asked  for a comment, Opel said it wants to be “more modular and more flexible” in the future.

The news prompted the German press to new creativity: Kfz-Betrieb, a German magazine covering the sales and service end of the auto industry, coined a new name (“Astragnia”) for the car, and dispatched designers to the Photoshop front to re-create the beast. It did not take long.

The paper also reports that production of  Opel’s Mokka SUVlet could soon migrate from South Korea  to Europe, most likely Opel Eisenach. The Mokka is a rare hot seller at Opel, customers have to wait six months to get theirs.  What’s more, moving production from Korea to Europe is seen as a concession to appease the German unions.

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The Time My Girlfriend Almost Bought An Aveo Mon, 30 Jul 2012 15:44:03 +0000

Back in April, Sajeev and Steve found some time to reply to my letter where I posed the impossible question. As gearheads, we all want something fun, fast, efficient, and cheap (well, most of us want cheap). Much like a traction circle, all these needs are in competition and in order to make good on one you need to sacrifice another. The ultimate gearhead car, unfortunately, does not exist and it never will.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t good, affordable vehicles out there which are fun to drive while ticking most of the boxes. And, this time, I actually followed the advice of someone else and couldn’t be happier.

For a number of weeks, my girlfriend and I scoured the classifieds, made calls, and generated lists of cars we wanted to check out. Initially, a Mazda Protege5 seemed to fit the bill. The interiors are still great to look at to this day, the engines torquey and fun, and the Protege5 is halfway between a proper wagon and a hatchback. She had laid down the law saying she wouldn’t be caught driving a wagon, so for me this was a solid win.

Once we started looking around to see what Protege5s were available, we were promptly disappointed. All were in various states of disrepair, from simple electronic accessories being broken to full on rust infestation and everything in between, the east coast climate was claiming Protege5s at a steady, rapid rate. Our dream econobox choice turned out not to be a valid choice at all.

After a few Mazdisasters, a personal friend of mine invited us to one of Canada’s largest GM dealerships to check out their used inventory. This particular dealership doesn’t keep any wholesale stock sitting around, so the price of entry is relatively steep on the used lot. “Just show me the cheapest cars you have,” I said, hoping there would be some unloved goldmine hidden behind the service bays, waiting for a new owner to care for and cherish her.

“Well, our most affordable option on the lot is a 2006 Chevy Aveo 5-door hatchback,” replied my friend who is relatively new to the car hawking business.

At this point, my internal monologue was unleashing a series of expletives cursing the Aveo’s existence, but on the outside I am telling my girlfriend to take it for a drive, hoping she will come to the realization the Aveo is the automotive equivalent of a polished turd. Even worse, this is someone else’s former polished turd.

I drove the first half of the predefined test route, bemoaned the underpowered 1.6L four-pot smushed together with the lazy 4-speed automatic, and tried to think happier thoughts,  such as getting repeatedly kicked in the groin by someone with a size 15 shoe. I felt dirty, like I had done something completely forbidden and totally frowned upon if anyone found out. I’d driven an Aveo.

Shortly, it was time for us to switch seats and for my significant other to take over for the rest of the journey back to the dealership. Though she didn’t show love or heaping praise for the Korean tin can, she didn’t hate it either. I found this strange. The engine to her was adequately powerful, amenities were few but simple and easy to use, and the steering was fairly light in her hands. On arrival back to the dealership she uttered three words which could have laid waste to my automotive reputation: “I like it.”

If I hadn’t have been there, I am sure the Aveo would have been sold that day.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, the salesperson and my girlfriend exchanged text messages about the red little Chevy while I frantically went dealership to dealership looking for an affordable alternative. And, out of nowhere, an oasis appeared. At a used car dealership sat a vehicle suggested by TTAC’s own Steve Lang, a 2008 Saturn Astra 5-door hatchback with a proper manual transmission.

Two years newer, slightly more mileage, and a hell of a lot more car than the Aveo, the Astra was priced slightly above our budget . When my girlfriend saw the price displayed on the other side of the windshield she winced at the thought of paying more than our budgeted allotment, but I was determined to show her this was the better choice.

The Astra was a victim of being in North America wearing the wrong badge at the wrong time. Saturn was about to get cut from the team and with the economic crisis commencing nobody wanted to pay the premium Saturn dealers were asking for the European built hatch. Fortunately for us, prices for Saturns have tanked since then and the parts and service network still exists. We took the Belgian C-car for a drive around the neighbourhood, my girlfriend fell in love with the car, and the rest is automotive history I can be proud of.

If there is a lesson in this, other than listening to your two knowledgeable TTAC suggestion machines, it’s there is always a better option to “settling”. Nobody deserves to drive an Aveo.

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Here’s Something We’ll Never See As A Buick Verano Tue, 19 Jun 2012 13:46:17 +0000 North Americans already get a “hot” version of the Vauxhall/Opel Astra - it just happens to come with a Buick badge. Perhaps the Gods of the Ren Cen will smile on us and bring us a Verano GS using the Astra VXR’s 2.0L Ecotec engine. Because we sure won’t be getting the oil-burner.

The diesel Astra VXR also uses a 2.0L 4-cylinder. The diesel makes 195-horsepower – not far off from something like a Civic Si – but also brings 295 lb-ft to the party. On the European cycle, the VXR diesel returns about 44 mpg, which seems like a far trade off for the slower acceleration times. 60 mph comes up in 7.8 seconds, but the VXR diesel is good for 139 mph. As far as we know, there isn’t another compact out there that can return over 40 mpg, accelerate that fast and avoid looking like a rental car.

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Opel To Pull Plug On Astra Production In Rüsselsheim Mon, 07 May 2012 13:05:51 +0000

After a lot of talk, GM is beginning to create facts at Opel: The production of Opel’s volume model, the Astra, will be moved from Rüsselsheim to Opel/Vauxhall sites in Ellesmere Port and Gliwice, Poland. This according to reports in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which receives usually reliable information from Opel’s unions.

The union informants of the FAZ say that the decision will be announced in a few weeks. Their information is from Steve Girsky. Girsky heads Opel’s Supervisory Board where the unions have half of the seats.\

With more than 300,000 units made per year, the Astra is (next to the Corsa) Opel’s most important model. A decision to move its production elsewhere is devastating, a union member told the Frankfurt paper. “It is as if the Volkswagen Golf would no longer be built in Wolfsburg,” the informant said. One third of Rüsselsheim’s production capacity is currently used to make the Astra, says the FAZ

The move is planned for 2015, when the new generation of the Astra will be launched. In the same year, the agreement expires that until then prohibits firings or plant closures.

An Opel spokesman had no comment and referred to ongoing discussions. According to Der Spiegel, Opel CEO Stracke implicitly confirmed the story by praising Rüsselsheim’s importance for the production of the Opel Insignia.

Vis-a-vis the Wall Street Journal, GM later confirmed that it presented the strategy for the upcoming compact-car generation to its labor unions. Stracke said in a statement:

“After finalizing an information and consultation process with European labor representatives the company will decide at which plants the next Astra generation will be produced from 2015 on.”

Hat tip to the mountain man.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Receding Hairline Edition Fri, 21 Oct 2011 17:13:12 +0000 Panoramic windscreens are something of a building trend in Europe’s premium-ish small car segments, combining the benefits of a sunroof with improved visibility. GM debuted the concept as a rarely-chosen option on the previous-generation Astra three-door, and it’s coming back with the forthcoming Astra GTC. Which raises an interesting question: since I’m convinced the GTC will come to the US as a Buick coupe, will this funky look come across the pond as well? Bob Lutz emphasized his preference for “glowering” low rooflines, telling TTAC that an early version of the forthcoming Cadillac ATS looked like “a kid with too large of a forehead” before he told designers to bring down the browline. Will an exception be made for this unique (to the US Market) feature on what should be one of GM’s most purely European cars? Or will Lutz’s aesthetic tastes doom GM buyers to observing traffic lights out of their side windows? Is this an option that other automakers should consider making available? Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail gtcpanorama1 A Buick with a receding hairline?



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Are You Ready For: Buick Verano “GTI”? Fri, 14 Oct 2011 15:38:21 +0000

The last time we watched a hotted-up Opel Astra GTC tear around the ‘ring, I reckoned

it’s fairly unlikely that [GM] would bring a 290 HP, limited-slip, six-speed hot hatch to the Buick brand any time soon. Or is it? The line for “Mr Euro”-style self-delusion forms here…

I’m still skeptical about a 290 HP version, but a 200-ish HP GTI-fighter is making more sense… especially after seeing mules of the Astra GTC at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds earlier this week. And GMauthority reports that

according to sources, the Astra has been green-lit to become a Buick. The name is unknown, but it’s possible that it will wear the Verano nameplate, with some sort of a specifying moniker.

The Verano sedan is tipped as a “comfort-first” model, but a sporty, premium hatch-coupe variant could help Buick drive its buyer age even lower. Especially now that Acura has let its Integra/RSX legacy wither on the vine. But then, it sounds like the Buick boys don’t need encouraging on this front…

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Is This Buick’s Open-Top Future? Wed, 10 Aug 2011 22:03:55 +0000

To be perfectly honest, we don’t know if the forthcoming Opel Astra CC (shown here in mule form) will be brought to the US and sold as a Buick, but it’s certainly been rumored. C&D says that, in addition to an Astra/Verano coupe, which it says will “definitely” be coming to the US,

Buick’s lineup could be graced with another Opel model that is currently under development. Replacing the folding-hardtop Astra Twin Top in Europe will be a new model that won’t be badged Astra, but will be based on the car’s Delta platform and remain close to the current model’s dimensions. The new convertible will keep its pronounced trunk and shed its clumsy hardtop in favor of a softtop, which should increase luggage space and make for a far cleaner look. Opel believes the softtop will create a more premium image.

The last Buick convertible? The 1990-91 Reatta convertible. But Buick’s probably hoping that nobody remembers those bad old days…

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Buick To Get An(other) Astra Wed, 18 May 2011 17:38:13 +0000
Fresh on the heels of today’s release of Opel Zafira pictures, Buick has confirmed to Automotive News [sub] that rumors of a rebadged Opel Astra for the US market are indeed real. But wait, you say, isn’t the Buick Verano just an Astra sedan? Perhaps… but since there’s no Astra sedan to rebadge, that leaves only three choices for this future Buick Astra: the five-door hatch, the three-door coupe-hatch or the “Touring” wagon. C&D would like to see a 300 HP Buick Hot Hatch to come in the form of the Astra GTC OPC, although we’re skeptical that Buick will offer 300 HP in a car smaller than its “detuned image changer,” the Regal GS.  If the Meriva represents the “Baby Enclave,” it’s possible there’s room for a C-Segment wagon, but the rumors insist that younger buyers are the target for this US-market Astra. So, chromed-out five door? Detuned “Skyhawk” GTC coupe? Gentlemen, start your speculation…

astrafront Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail astratouring astragtc1 astragtc astratouring1 astra Hello, Buick... ]]> 34
What’s Wrong With This Picture: Buick’s Brand Integra-ty Edition Thu, 03 Jun 2010 14:42:53 +0000

The new Buick Regal is aimed straight at Acura’s TSX… could this forthcoming Opel Astra Coupe be Buick’s answer to the late Acura Integra/RSX? GM has thus far refused to confirm any Astra-based Buicks besides a sedan that’s already being caught without camo in China. But if Buick is going compact, where should it draw the line? After all, the brand is anxious to attract young buyers… but does a compact coupe take Buick’s youth movement too far? And what do you call a Buick coupe that could fit under the hood of a classic Riviera? Rebadged Opels and younger buyers are a solid basis for a Buick revival, but cars like this one prove that Buick needs more than just a direction to head in: it needs a vision.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Baby Buick Apes Astra Edition Wed, 25 Nov 2009 19:44:07 +0000 Excelle-ent job of hiding the Astra

No wonder GM decided it couldn’t give up Opel… it would have lost Buick as well! Expect this Buick Excelle (a rebadged Opel Astra in the style of the new Regal) to arrive in the US under a different name (and probably in sedan form only) around the 2012 model year.

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