Rüsselsheim/Berlin- And the winner is: The Opel Astra. Opel’s new compact class star was recognized at the Oscars of the automotive industry in Berlin, winning the “Golden Steering Wheel” in the compact class. The Astra has only been at dealers since mid-October and has now already reaped this important award making it a true high-flyer. Opel Group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann and CMO Tina Müller attended the ceremony last week in the Axel-Springer-Haus, with Dr. Neumann accepting the award on behalf of Opel. The “Golden Steering Wheel” is awarded jointly by Auto Bild and Bild am Sonntag. A jury consisting of readers, experts and celebrities such as racing legend Walter Röhrl pick the best newcomers of the year after extensive test drives.



“The most important award for the best Opel we have ever built! And the most important car in our product portfolio. We at Opel can be extremely proud of this ‘Golden Steering Wheel’. It proves that all of our efforts have paid off. The new Astra is synonymous for lightweight, highly efficient engines, a better packaging, features from the luxury class, trendsetting connectivity and exemplary quality,” said a jubilant Dr. Neumann at the award ceremony.



Opel’s CMO Tina Müller added: “Our new Astra is a high-flyer in every sense as seen in the quantum leap video. We have already received more than 40,000 orders for the new Astra. And now we have won this very special prize. We can all be delighted with it. Opel is somebody again – with the Astra as our guiding star!”



The examples of the new Astra have already landed in Port Elizabeth where they are part of the companies Captured Test Fleet for quality testing and local validation. The new Astra is set to make its South African debut in the first half of 2016.



Opel and the “Golden Steering Wheel”: All winners from Rüsselsheim


The new Opel Astra’s win at the much-coveted 2015 Golden Steering Wheel Awards is the continuation of the Rüsselsheim-based carmaker’s successful tradition in the competition, which started with the Opel Senator A in 1978, two years after the award was introduced, and includes 16 titles over five decades.



1978 – Opel Senator A: The first “Golden Steering Wheel”


In 1978, the brand with Blitz won its first “Golden Steering Wheel” with the Opel Senator. Presented at the IAA in September 1977, the Senator was the successor of the legendary Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat models and was Opel’s flagship until making its final bow in 1993. The 1978 Senator was available with three different engines – a 2.8-litre engine with 103 kW, a 3.0-liter unit with 110 kW and the top-of-the-range 3.0-litre engine with 132 kW.



1979 – Opel Kadett D: The award-winning space wonder


One year later Opel was back on the top of the rostrum. The 1979 Kadett D was the first ever Opel compact class car with front-wheel drive and delivered the company’s second “Golden Steering Wheel”. Thanks to the transverse engines and a missing flexible drive shaft it offers the passengers amble space despite compact dimensions and it being



126 mm shorter than its predecessor. In addition, the Kadett saw the introduction of new engines with overhead camshaft. The four-cylinder 1.3-litre OHC engine generated 44kW or 55 kW. In addition to the spacious station wagon with a load volume of up to 1,425 litres, Opel offered two different fastback versions. In January 1983, the sporty Kadett GTE followed, with a top speed of 187 km/h and equipped with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine that developed 86 kW.



1981 – Opel Ascona C: Good things come in threes


In 1981, it was the Opel Ascona C’s turn to bring home the goods for the Rüsselsheim-based automaker. It was the first Opel middle class car with front-wheel drive and available as a notchback and a station wagon. The Ascona C was available with gasoline engines ranging from 1.3 to 1.6 litres and a 1.6-litre diesel unit.



1982 – Opel Corsa A: Small car, huge impact


Only 12 months later, in 1982, a brand-new Opel model took the “Golden Steering Wheel” awards by storm – the Corsa A. Opel’s first ever small car featured close-coupled proportions within a short length of just 3.62 metres. It had bold, flared wheel-arches like a rally car and an exceptionally low drag coefficient of 0.36, which was possibly record-breaking for its class. The Corsa A was designed to appeal to ‘the man of the house’ in particular. The highlight was the 72 kW Corsa GSi. The two-door hatch and notchback line-up was expanded in 1985 with the addition of the popular five-door model. The Corsa A became a highly acclaimed top seller with 3.1 million units built.



1984 – Opel Kadett E: Another compact class winner


Five years after winning the “Golden Steering Wheel” for the first time, the Kadett took pole position again with its new generation launched in 1984. The second front-wheel drive Kadett, built from 1984 to 1991, was an absolute winner and also took the 1984 “Car of the Year” Award. Furthermore, the Kadett is rated as an aerodynamics champion. The sporty GSi, with a Cd of 0.30 stunned the experts and even the normal hatchback sedan achieved a sensational value of 0.32. In total, the aerodynamics champions was sold 3.779.289 times.



1987 – Opel Senator B: In for a penny, in for a pound


The Opel Senator B also managed to repeat the success of its predecessor. Based on the rear-wheel drive Opel Omega, the new flagship mainly comes with six-cylinder engines with the smooth 3-litre in-line engine with 115 kW leading the way. You could place a coin on its edge in the engine compartment without it falling over when the engine was running. Later, a 4-valve version of the 6-cylinder engine with Dual-Ram variable intake system and hearty 150 kW is introduced.



1990 – Opel Calibra: The athlete shines


A true champion wins the “Golden Steering Wheel” in 1990: A breathtaking coupé with a record-breaking drag coefficient of 0.26! The Calibra was available with powerful engines ranging from 85 kW to 150 kW. The Opel Calibra Turbo with all-wheel drive and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 6.8 seconds was the icing on the cake. A V6 engine with 125 kW rounds off the offer. In motorsports, a Calibra V6 wins the touring car crown by taking the ITC in 1996.



1994 – Opel Omega B: The big car takes gold


The second edition of the Omega left a special impression on the jury. The dynamic design, the extensive amount of space and the new V6 engines with alloy cylinder heads and up to 155 kW hit the taste of the experts. The new airbag systems ensured a high level of safety for all occupants. The station wagon version boasted sheer endless loading capacity making it the ideal car for families and artisans alike, whereas the notchback version is classed a representative business sedan.



1995 – Opel Vectra B: Mirror, mirror, on the door


The Opel Vectra’s most eye-catching feature are the aerodynamically shaped door mirrors that form a harmonic unity with the front of the car. It is a feature the “Golden Steering Wheel” jury cannot resist either. The Vectra also wins because of its new and efficient gasoline engines ranging from 1.6 to 2.6 litres and with outputs between 55 kW and 125 kW. Elsewhere, the direct injection diesel engines with displacements ranging from 1.7 to 2.2 litres delivering exemplary consumption celebrated their debut.



1999 – Opel Zafira A: The quick-change artist with seven seats


Who invented it? Opel! Yes, the compact van that can be turned from a complete seven-seater into a transporter with impressive maximum load volume (1,700 litres max.) in a flash (in only 15 seconds!) without removing a single seat is a Rüsselsheim brainchild. The formula is called Flex7 and it helps the Zafira win the “Golden Steering Wheel in 1999”. Thanks to the ingenious concept, the seats disappear into the vehicle floor when necessary. The flexible space wonder also impresses with compact dimensions and outstanding driving dynamics.



2002 – Opel Vectra C: The master electrician


The third generation Vectra successful defended the title won by its predecessor by winning gold yet again. The new middle class car enters the electronic age, connects its systems via a CAN (Controller Area Network) bus instead of via a cable harness, and comes with electrohydraulic power steering. Outputs of the gasoline and diesel engines ranged from 74 kW to 206 kW with displacements ranging from 1.6 to 3.2 liters. In 2004, Opel also fitted the Vectra with the IDS Plus active suspension with Continuous Damping Control (CDC), which ensures that the dampers adapt to the current driving situation.



2005 – Opel Zafira B: Completing the golden dozen


The second generation Zafira continues to set the standards with a further development of the Flex7 seating system and wins the “Golden Steering Wheel” again. Furthermore, it is also classed as the fastest van on the planet when the OPC version with 177 kW completed a lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 8:54:38 minutes. 240 powerful horses under the hood and an outstanding performance handling system help achieve this record-breaking time.



2009 - Opel Astra J: The compact designer piece


In 2009, the Astra J, a true designer piece, followed in the footsteps of the Kadett D space wonder and the Kadett E aerodynamics champions, securing Opel’s third “Golden Steering Wheel” compact class title. The Astra follows Opel’s new design philosophy ‘Sculptural artistry meets German precision’. In additional, the Astra J comes with modern assistance systems such as the Opel Eye or the AFL+ headlamp system that can see around corners. The FlexRide adaptive technology helps it adapt to the current driving situation and front-seat ocupants can enjoy the ride in AGR-certified (Campaign for healthy backs) seats.



2010 – Opel Meriva B: So clever, so compact, so golden


The Zafira’s little brother strikes gold in 2012 with the Meriva B underlining Opel’s van expertise. The jury is convinced by the versatile FlexSpace rear-seating system and the innovative rear-hinged rear door system. The FlexDoors allow easy access to small children in the rear and ensure that tall people do not struggle to gain access. The engine portfolio offers amble power while curbing consumption thanks to downsizing and turbo-charging. Outputs range from 55 kW to 103 kW.



2012 – Opel Zafira Tourer: The lounge on wheels


The Zafira is accompanied by a premium partner in the Zafira Tourer and immediately wins another “Golden Steering Wheel”. In addition to the flexible interior, the new boy impresses with lounge comfort, panorama glass sunroof and innovations such as radar-based speed control and emphatic Forward Collision Alert. The new frugal diesel with outstanding endurance for long distance driving is called 2.0 CDTI and delivers 121 kW. The 1.6 CNG turbo ecoFLEX (110kW) later goes on to win the award for the most environmentally friendly vehicle in the van segment three years in a row (2013 to 2015).



2015 – Opel Astra K: The quantum leap


And the winner is: The new Astra is based on a completely new lightweight vehicle architecture, is powered exclusively by latest-generation engines and enables ultra-modern connectivity via smartphone integration and the groundbreaking personal connectivity and service assistant Opel OnStar. The new Astra also continues Opel’s tradition of introducing features previously only known from higher segments into the compact segment. That results in the “2015 Golden Steering Wheel”.