BRUSSELS - The Opel Astra station wagon made its world debut at the 76th Brussels auto show. Sales begin in March, together with the hatchback model.
The new Astra is built in Bochum, Germany, and Antwerp.
'It took six weeks to change tooling, set up new supply lines and train employees for the new model's assembly processes,' said Wim de Heer, sales director of Opel Netherlands, 'but dealers are now assured of uninterrupted supply.' Opel decided last September to delay the launch of the Astra by half a year.
Mercedes-Benz introduced its revised A-class. The car has a visibly lower suspension setting and wider rear track. A-class sales have continued since the moose test crisis, but deliveries were halted until February while changes were made.
Lancia showed the final facelift of the Dedra before a new model debuts next year. Fiat Auto will unveil a study of Lancia's future identity at the next Turin auto show in April, not in Geneva as announced before, said a spokesman.
Toyota showed the Funtime hatchback, which is the basis of the car that Toyota will build at its new plant in Valenciennes, France, after 2000. The car debuted in Frankfurt last September.
'We started work on these (concept) cars in February 1996, after the concept of the production model had been decided on,' said John McLeod, senior chief designer at Toyota's EPOC studio in Brussels. 'The architecture and packaging will be exactly the same, only ornamental details may differ.' The Funtime will be slightly longer, wider and taller than the Starlet.
Citroen will build a three-box version of the ZX by the end of the year, said spokeswoman Gro Hoeg.
The Mitsubishi Space Star to be built at NedCar won't be shown until Geneva, when a concept version will appear. The production model will debut at Paris in the autumn.
A Mitsubishi official said it is not a minivan, but a cross between a station wagon and a hatchback with a relatively high architecture.
The Brussels show in even-numbered years is one of Europe's biggest, drawing 726,000 visitors in 1996.