Sep 3, 2015
Rüsselsheim. The new Opel Astra, which premieres at the IAA in Frankfurt (September 17-27), is not only lighter and more efficient than its predecessors, it also boasts innovative driver assistance systems and comfort features to make journeys, short or long, safer and more relaxed. Many of these systems are unrivalled in the compact class segment or celebrate their Opel debut in the new Astra. The latest generation Opel Eye front camera with enhanced capabilities and functionalities such as Collision Mitigation Braking and Collision Imminent Braking, or the completely newly engineered seating system with outstanding ergonomics are just some examples.
“Several generations of Kadett and Astra have brought innovative technologies from the upper class into the affordable compact segment. Each generation has raised the bar in safety, comfort and efficiency. I wanted the new Astra to once again set standards in the compact class. And it does it. We have invested much engineering effort to develop new systems that improve active safety as well as the very best seats in the segment,” said Opel Group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann.
The improved next generation Opel Eye front camera makes its debut in the new Opel Astra. It has higher image processing power, an increased detection rate and it processes an additional amount of information from different sources: when combined with Navi 900 IntelliLink, it draws on data from the navigation system that are fused with data detected by the camera itself. This allows it to provide the driver with more accurate information than ever before.
Thanks to this enhanced capability, the Astra’s Traffic Sign Assist offers improved performance. Now boasting even higher precision, it can detect and display round traffic signs, rectangular – such as highway – signs, or speed limit related add-on signs with graphic symbols while the multiple exposure technology improves the detection rate of dynamic – such as LED – signs. Traffic Sign Assist also continuously checks the data provided by the front camera and compares them to the information provided by the Navi 900 IntelliLink navigation system. It displays implicit speed limits – when entering an urban area for instance – and the end of these – when exiting a city – before then displaying the country-specific speed limit for the respective type of road. In addition, it gives an immediate indication of speed limits after turning to a different type of road. In the new Astra, speed limits are permanently displayed on the screen located between the speedometer and the rev counter – thus reducing the risk of speeding tickets.
Another ticket-saver – which helps avoid fines for tailgating – featured in the new Astra is Following Distance Indication that drivers can activate on the central display. It utilizes the front camera to detect moving vehicles on the road ahead and calculates the distance to them. This value is then displayed to the driver in seconds. This indication approach is in line with the regulations in most European countries, which define distance in terms of time, not in meters. A stylized green car symbolizes the vehicle in front. If the distance is insufficient, the Headway Alert function is automatically activated and the symbol turns amber.
Opel Eye’s intelligent assistance systems enhance active safety also enabled by the third generation Opel Eye front camera, Lane Departure Warning, now also with Lane Keep Assist, is an active safety feature making its Opel debut in the new Astra. As before, it recognizes road markings, but it now gently turns the steering wheel in addition to the well-known alerts if the Astra’s driver should unintentionally veer out of lane. The system works at speeds ranging from 60 to 180 km/h but does not continuously steer the vehicle. If the steering torque does not prevent departure (e.g. on curves), the amber Lane Keep Assist icon flashes and provides three warning tone as the lane marker is crossed to provide a Lane Departure Warning alert. The steering wheel nudges and alerts are disabled if the driver is detected to be actively steering, braking, accelerating or if a turn signal is activated. The intelligent software required for Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning has been developed completely in house.
When the new Astra is equipped with the Opel Eye front camera, it also offers Forward Collision Alert with Collision Mitigation Braking functions. The Forward Collision Alert (FCA) feature assists drivers in avoiding or mitigating the impact of front-end collisions, for example colliding with the vehicle ahead. If the gap shrinks below a safe distance, it warns the driver with a loud audible alarm, a visual warning in the instrument cluster and, now, an LED projection on the windscreen. The driver can adjust the safety distance of FCA to detect objects ahead with ‘near’ ‘mid’ or ‘far’ settings via a switch located on the steering wheel. The system now also includes Integrated Brake Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking. If it detects that the driver’s braking effort following the warning is nonexistent or insufficient, it can boost the braking (Integrated Brake Assist) or automatically brake the vehicle (Autonomous Emergency Braking), thus helping avoid or lessening the severity of crashes at relatively low speeds. The system works at speeds above 8 km/h and below 80 km/h. At speeds below 40 km/h the system can avoid the collision by performing full braking. Scientific studies conducted by Opel have revealed that, at speeds up to 80 km/h, the reflective LEDs in the windshield can have a positive impact of reaction times and can ultimately lead to an impact speed reduction of between 10 and 20 km/h.
The new Astra is the first compact class car offered by a volume manufacturer with a mono-camera approach for all functions. Furthermore, it is the first Opel that offers assisted braking with the information received only from the camera.
Elsewhere, Opel’s award-winning ultrasonic Side Blind Spot Alert provides an additional safety net both for Astra drivers and other road users. This system warns drivers about hidden dangers. When changing lanes, overtaking or turning a corner, other road users can disappear in the blind spot. Ultrasonic sensors permanently scan wide areas around the vehicle at speeds ranging from 11 km/h to 140 km/h. If the electronic guardians pick up an object in the blind spot, an optical amber-colored warning appears in the relevant exterior door mirror. If the turn indicator is applied towards the direction of the object in the blind spot, the optical LED warning starts flashing. The light intensity of the LEDs is high and the warning cannot be missed even if the sun is shining. Opel’s Side Blind Spot Alert system has won the Euro NCAP Advanced Reward for advanced safety technology.
Another comfort features that makes driving the Astra more relaxing is Park Assist with ultrasonic front and rear sensors. Park Assist is always active below 11 km/h and automatically notifies the driver when it detects objects within the range of its sensors. Drivers are presented with optical information on the display area including the distance to the other object and its position (front/rear; left/center/right). In addition, the distance is indicated acoustically. The new generation Advanced Park Assist identifies suitable parking spaces and automatically parks the vehicle, without the driver touching the wheel. The ultrasonic sensor-based system measures parallel or perpendicular parking spots, calculates the vehicle’s trajectory and automatically steers the Astra into a space. The driver just controls acceleration, deceleration and gear shifting.
For prices starting at 295 euros, Astra drivers can make parking and reversing even easier by adding the Rear View Camera to Park Assist. Mounted above the rear license plate, it shows the area behind the vehicle on the infotainment screen. The display is activated by engaging reverse gear and automatically switches off either 10 seconds after reverse has been disengaged or when the vehicle exceeds 7 km/h driving forward. A special feature of Opel’s Rear View Camera system is the dynamic guidelines that show the actual vehicle path based on the steering wheel angle, thus helping drivers to estimate distances to other objects while maneuvering.
The extensive list of active safety features and driver assistance systems available for the new Astra is accompanied by a comprehensive passive safety concept. The basis of this concept is a rigid passenger cell mainly fabricated from high-strength steel that has been designed for the least possible deformations and the largest possible survival space in crash conditions. To accommodate the impact energy in case of a crash, the front, sides and rear of the passenger compartment are surrounded by energy absorption zones that deform and protect in a controlled manner.
Furthermore, the Astra engineers have taken a three-part approach for the standard airbag system consisting of front airbags for driver and co-driver, thorax-pelvis side airbags and full-length curtain airbags for the first and second row. Combined with the advanced front safety systems consisting of body-mounted retractor/pretensioners with load limiter, seat-mounted lap pretensioners and seat-integrated pelvis ramp, the new Astra ensures maximum passenger protection and reduces injury potential.
In addition to the active and passive safety features, the new Opel Astra is also available with a host of comfort features – which also positively affect safety – such as the new AGR (Aktion Gesunder Rücken / Campaign for Healthier Backs) certified premium Opel ergonomic seats. They provide excellent long-distance travel seating comfort and continue the Opel tradition of award-winning, back-friendly seats that are offered at very attractive prices. Beyond being 18-way adjustable and now including side bolster adjustment, they are now also optionally available with further comfort features such as massage and memory function along with ventilation – a unique combination in the compact class. Rear seat passengers can also look forward to more luxury – in addition to more legroom, heated outer rear seats are optional. Astra customers can treat themselves to these luxury seats for very attractive prices – the driver’s seat with the AGR seal of approval is already available from 390 euros.
Engineering development of the seating environment in the new Astra already began nearly five years ago for the over 100 employees in the team of experts employed in the seating and associated departments, with the integration of the relatively bulky seats being paramount. A very challenging task, as the seat components are one of the car’s largest parts. Seat production alone accounts for around ten percent of the total production costs of a new car model.
At the same time, the seats have a large impact on total weight. That is why for their new development, the engineers first had to minutely examine all individual elements of the Astra comfort seats that come as standard. In order to offer rear seat passengers 35 millimeters more legroom, the back of the new comfort front seat was made much more compact. State-of-the-art calculation methods enable this, as do lighter polyurethane foams and ultra-high-strength steels that are built in under the seat upholstery. All this results in the new seats being 10 kilograms lighter than those in the previous model. This is not only true for the driver and co-driver seats – the new Astra’s rear seats are also lighter and more compact, their contouring was optimized and thigh support was enhanced with a steeper seat tilt.
The Opel seat engineers also further optimized the positioning of the Astra comfort seat in the car, especially accommodating taller drivers with a sporty driving style. Thanks to a 65-millimeter height adjustment span – the largest in the segment – shorter drivers are also guaranteed an optimum seating position. With the optional premium ergonomic seat’s memory function, this can even be saved at the press of a button. This is ideal for fleet vehicles with the same group of drivers or couples who share the new Opel Astra. The base version of the optional ergonomic seats comes with four-way electropneumatically adjustable lumbar support (forwards, backwards, up and down), variable seat cushion tilt, cushion length adjustment and a seat form with contours that adapt to the natural curvature of the spine. The premium ergonomic seats also feature electropneumatically adjustable side bolsters that support the body by making the seatback narrower or wider. All these exemplary ergonomic elements made it clear to the AGR (Campaign for Healthier Backs), an independent association of doctors and experts dedicated to preventing back problems, that the new Astra front seats also deserve the AGR seal of approval.
Seats should not only keep drivers securely in place, they should also keep them warm or cool depending on the prevailing conditions. The new Astra comfort seat features passive climate control, meaning breathable surface fabrics and perforated polyurethane foams that considerably improve transporting away moisture and thereby the micro climate in the seat. The new Astra’s premium ergonomic seats can do both – keep warm and cool. Small fans suck air, and thus the moisture that develops when someone is in the seat, away from the body. In the winter, integrated seat heating keeps the driver and co-driver as well as both outer rear seat passengers comfortably warm. Those who want to turn their car into a wellness mobile on longer journeys can enjoy a massage at the push of a button – and arrive at their destination even hours later relaxed and free of aches or pains.
With this all-embracing active and passive safety concept combined with the wide range of comfort features, the new Astra lives up to Opel’s philosophy of democratizing innovative technologies and bringing these to the mainstream market, thus making driving safer and more relaxed for a wider audience.
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