Opel Astra: High-end connectivity for the masses

June 02, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The new Opel / Vauxhall Astra, to be introduced officially at the IAA motor show in September, could well emerge as a serious contender to Volkswagen’s long-standing bestseller Golf. In particular in terms of connectivity and driver assistance, the vehicle marks a new phase for the European GM subsidiary and for the entire compact class.

The Astra will be Opel’s first all-new vehicle equipped with Onstar, the connectivity and remote diagnostics system of parent company General Motors. Introduced in North America already in 1996 and continuously further developed since then, Onstar represents a broad range of personal assistance services – something that upmarket competitors like BMW with ConnectedDrive and Daimler (Mercedes Connect Me) market as one of their sophisticated unique selling proposals. And now here comes Opel and spoils their game in bringing Onstar to the compact class. Actually, the Astra won’t mark Onstar’s Europe debut – the company will start offering it for its high-end model Insignia this summer, a spokesperson explained. Nevertheless, the Astra will be the first new vehicle equipped with the online service. Onstar even anticipates the eCall emergency services expected to become mandatory for new vehicles in Europe starting in March 2018.

In addition, the Astra will feature an LTE / Wi-Fi transponder that provides outside connectivity services to up to seven in-car terminal nodes such as smartphones, tablets or other computers. Not very long ago, such an internal hotspot was decorating the interior of the most expensive vehicles from Audi and BMW – now Opel makes it available to average customers.

Then there is the IntelliLink infotainment system. Until recently, the question whether a carmaker supports Andorid or iOS smartphones got people worked up. Opel’s simple answer is both. Its IntelliLink infotainment system connects to Android and iOS smartphones equally. Representing a superset of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, it is the result of a collaboration with both camps, the spokesperson explained.