Our guy with the long lens and a penchant for being nosy has grabbed these first shots of Vauxhall/Opel's new three-door Astra, the Sport Hatch. This is an engineering mule, hence the five doors, but it's been confirmed to us that underneath the bodyshell lies the hardware of the three-door Astra due in late 2011.
Continuing the current positioning of the Sport Hatch, the three-door will be a swoopier, curvier model with some genuine coupé credentials. GM has already issued a teaser shot of the three-door and it's said to be very accurate.
It's clear to see from our new spy photos that the three-door Astra Sport Hatch (2011) gains a wider track front and rear, with new wings flowing over the butcher wheelarches. It'll be low and squat, putting style over accommodation as the roomy five-door caters for families wanting room more than va-va-voom.
What's all this about the GSi badge coming out of retirement?
Ever wondered where Vauxhall's Golf GTI rival was? Sure, they've got the Astra VXR but that's a hardcore 240bhp hot hatch. Here's the answer: the reborn GSi badge, adorning a new 210bhp pocket rocket slap bang in the sweet spot of GTI territory.
Exact details remain shrouded in mystery. But our source suggests there is a gap in the market between the current 180bhp 1.6 turbo Astra and the full-fat 240bhp VXR. Somewhere – oooh, let's think – around the 207bhp Golf GTI sweet spot.
Interestingly, the GSi will be available in both five- and three-door format. It's likely to stick with the 1.6 turbo, tuned for even more performance. Vauxhall has openly said it doesn't want to use large capacity engines to extract extra grunt.
The current three-door and VXR, which between them account for a fifth of all Astra sales, will continue in production until autumn 2011, when the sleek new models land.
What else is new on the Astra?
Other new Astras to look out for include the Sport Tourer estate, due in summer 2010. Stop-start models start arriving in January 2011, as Vauxhall and Opel roll out the eco tech across every model range in the next three years.
By autumn 2012, every single range will have at least one model with stop-start. The Corsa gets it first, followed by the Astra.