Vauxhall Astra - Second Generation (1984-1991)

Second Generation (1984-1991)

The Mark 2 Astra was launched on 17 October 1984. It used the same range of engines and running gear as the Mark 1, but with a completely restyled body with better aerodynamics. It was voted 1985 European Car of the Year.

Long-lived, the Mark 2 was available in estate, hatchback, saloon and cabriolet versions. The saloon was launched in January 1986 and sold as the Vauxhall Belmont; this trend to brand saloon models independently of hatchbacks was also used by other manufacturers of the period, with examples including the Ford Orion and the Volkswagen Jetta. However, this strategy was mostly unsuccessful, as this was Vauxhall's only attempt at badging its hatchback-based saloon as a separate model, and Ford rebadged its Orion range as Escorts in September 1993.

Bertone built 6,764 cabriolets from 1987 to 1993. These came as 1.6 (with 82 bhp (61 kW)) and 2-litre (115 bhp (86 kW)) GTEs, the latter available with powered roof and electric windows. These cars are praised for their shake-free shells and their looks.

A new GTE using a 2 litre fuel injected engine was also introduced, and early models of these featured an all electronic dash with digital speedometer. Analogue instruments were an optional extra, but were very rarely selected over the digital dash. Vauxhall's twin-camshaft version of the engine, the C20XE, had a high performance version of the GTE created around it. This engine was originally released in Europe where it developed 156 ps (153.9 bhp) in standard form. When the GTE 16v arrived in the UK, it was subject to stricter emissions regulations; to meet these, a new exhaust manifold was applied to the C20XE, which robbed the engine of 6ps. The resulting 150ps (148 bhp) offered sprightly performance, though a common criticism is that the handling was never good enough for the engine. The limited-edition "Champion" Astras from 1990 were fitted with the same C20XE "redtop" engines (so called because of their red spark plug cover), along with Connolly Leather interiors.

This model formed the basis of the Daewoo Cielo, Racer, Nexia and LeMans, and its export versions, the Asüna SE (Canada), Asüna GT (Canada), Passport Optima (Canada) and Pontiac LeMans (Canada, New Zealand and USA).

The Mark 2 Astra sold well in the UK, and although it was never able to outsell the Ford Escort, it came closer than any other similar-sized car to achieving this.

In 2005, a survey found the two most stolen cars in Britain to be the Vauxhall Belmont and the Vauxhall Astra Mark 2, with more than 1 in 13 Belmonts stolen.

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