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back on 85 years of compact history at the Blitz

Compacts have been a real hit at Opel for 85 years, with the Kadett launched in 1936, followed by the Astra which is now in its sixth generation.

The new sixth-generation Opel Astra aims to become the new benchmark in the compact category, sharing its design with the new Peugeot 308. But before joining the Stellantis group, Opel was the first German manufacturer to market a compact: the Kadett, in 1936. Zoom on 85 years of history of the brand’s compacts at the Blitz!

Opel Kadett: innovative since 1936

The story begins with the very first Opel Kadett in 1936, which distinguished itself by a major innovation: a self-supporting body made entirely of steel, while the bodies were usually made of wood. This new technology offers many advantages such as weight gain, increased safety and better robustness, as well as better performance: at the time the Kadett could reach nearly 100 km / h. Sadly, his career was cut short in 1940, during World War II. In total, 107,608 copies of the model were produced by the Opel factory in Rüsselsheim.

Two decades later, the Opel compact makes its comeback with the Cadet A, produced at 650,000 copies between 1962 and 1965. A rather atypical silhouette of a two-door notchback sedan, which was distinguished by a large trunk, generous space for four people, and a responsive engine that requires little maintenance: a four-cylinder 993 cm3 strong of 40 horses.

In 1965, the next generation took over, with a Cadet B. significantly larger and inspired by the style of the popular fastback models in the United States. This is the success for Opel, which produced more than 2.6 million units of the “B” until July 1973, with many silhouettes including a 2 or 4 door station wagon, as well as a coupé available in a Rally version.

The story continues with the Cadet C., which stood out for its neat style and rear-wheel drive architecture for remarkable road handling. It was available in several “civilian” versions: sedan, station wagon and coupe, and also distinguished itself in competition, becoming one of the most popular rally cars of the 1970s. Between 1973 and 1979, they were in total 1.7 million copies of the Kadett C which were produced.

At the 1979 Frankfurt Motor Show, Opel’s first front-wheel drive model was presented: the Cadet D was born, with a new architecture and an even more spacious interior. A sporty Kadett GTE version also saw the light of day, with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produced 115 horsepower and a top speed of 187 km / h. Success was also here, with 2.1 million copies elapsed until 1984.

In 1984, Opel won the title of Car of the Year with the Cadet E, which breaks new records with 3,779,289 copies marketed until 1991. It uses the mechanical basis of the previous generation while bringing its style up to date, in order to modernize it. It is also the first Opel to wear the GSi badge on its sports version, with a 1.8-liter injection of 115 horsepower, which will then evolve into a 2.0-liter version of 130 horsepower, then a 16-valve version with 156 horsepower. What calm Volkswagen and its Golf GTI of the time.

Opel Astra F: the best-selling Opel of all time

From 1991, Opel abandoned the Kadett badge and launched its replacement: theAstra F, whose “numbering” begins at “F” to follow the Kadett. A radical change of name, because the German compact now wants to be more respectful of the environment and more livable, while offering a wide choice of shapes and engines. The name Astra is borrowed from the twin sister of the Kadett: the Vauxhall Astra, sold in the United Kingdom in 1980. Success is there, and the Astra F becomes theBest-selling Opel of all time, with 4.13 million copies elapsed until 1997.

In the spring of 1998, theOpel Astra G was born, with many silhouettes to go: sedan 3, 5 doors, notchback, station wagon, coupe and convertible. Its design was resolutely contemporary, while its chassis and engines are unanimous, with agile and safe handling. The space on board increases for the rear passengers, as does the boot with 370 liters of volume.

L’Astra H took over in March 2004, with a completely renewed design, as well as an extremely rich offer of no less than seven body variants, as well as twelve engines ranging from 90 to 240 horsepower. With its many new technologies and safety equipment, this third generation Astra was recognized as one of the safest compact sedans in its class at the time. It has passed over 2.7 million units until 2009.

L’Opel Astra J continues in 2009 the stylistic renewal of the brand, with a new design that is both contemporary and attractive. It also carried a lot of equipment borrowed from higher categories, such as reading signs, or the automatic switching on of high beams. Passenger comfort has also been taken care of, with a new generation of more ergonomic seats labeled by the AGR, the German association for back health.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015, Opel unveiled theAstra K, which was crowned with the Car of the Year 2016 award. 200 kg lighter than the previous generation, it was larger inside despite reduced exterior dimensions, and more efficient thanks to the latest generation engines . The offer is becoming more limited, however, with only two silhouettes offered in the catalog: 5-door sedan and Sports Tourer station wagon. In line with previous Astra, technologies are present with full LED matrix headlights, lane keeping assistance or automatic emergency braking, not to mention new ventilated and massaging seats, again labeled by the GR.

This year, the very last Astra L will continue the Opel tradition in compact sedans, and for the first time in the brand’s history at the Blitz, will also be available in a 100% electric version with the Astra-e, but also in plug-in hybrid versions of 180 and 225 horsepower, without neglecting the gasoline and diesel offer at its launch. It sports the new Opel identity with a powerful front end equipped with the Vizor grille, and will embed many state-of-the-art technologies. Production will begin in autumn 2021 at Opel’s historic factory in Rüsselsheim, before first deliveries expected in early 2022.

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