The new Opel/Vauxhall Astra inherited the FlexRide safety system from its sibling, the larger, more expensive Insignia mid-sized car.
FlexRide is an extension of ZF Friedrichshafen AG's continuous damping control (CDC). The CDC system utilizes sensors to monitor driving conditions. This information is then collated and analyzed to adjust the damping of each individual wheel to improve stability. With FlexRide, however, CDC is networked to other systems, such as Continental AG's electronic stability control and the electric power steering supplied by ZF Steering Systems, a joint venture of Robert Bosch GmbH and ZF. The exchange of information between those systems enables them to be regulated in a coordinated way, giving a safer ride than if each system was regulated individually. With FlexRide, one of two electronic damping modes may be selected: Sports mode, where the CDC adjusts in milliseconds to give a firm ride; or Tour mode, where the cars reacts more slowly and offers a softer, smoother ride.
To further improve stability, the Astra's wheelbase was lengthened by 71mm to 2,685mm and the front and rear track width was increased by 56mm and 70mm respectively. The range of tire widths that may be fitted to the car also increased, from 14 to 17 inches to 14 to 19 inches. Premier MSS, a subsidiary of the German Voith Group, is responsible for the wheel and tire assemblies.
Plastic Omnium Co. provides the Astra's front and rear bumpers, which are designed to withstand impacts of up to 15kph without any major damage, protecting the expensive inner workings of the automobile. Importantly, the front bumper is positioned slightly higher than normal, while the rear bumper has been slightly lowered. This is because in many collisions the front bumper of a car does not hit, but slides under the car in front. This is due to the diving of the front of a car and the raising of the rear end during sudden braking. These bumpers are one of the features that help reduce repair bills following an accident.
Opel assembles the Astra at its plant in Ellesmere Port, England. Prices start at 15,900 euros in Germany.