Officially, Britain's best selling UK-built car, the latest Mk6 Astra, launched last December, is already selling ahead of projections and has been instrumental in securing production of future models at Ellesmere Port, Vauxhall's main manufacturing plant in the Northwest of England.
Since the first Astra rolled out of a UK dealership in February 1980, over 2.8 million Astras have found UK homes. It's been this popularity which has helped make Britain the lead market in Europe for the Astra, accounting for 25 per cent of all its sales.
From when the first Astra went on sale, it rapidly gained a reputation for adopting the latest technology and innovation. The Astra Mk1 was Vauxhall's first car to incorporate both front-wheel-drive and a transverse engine layout, and also the first Vauxhall to be offered with a diesel engine in 1982.
It also gained a great image as a drivers' car, spawning the iconic GTE, as well as the later GSi (Mks 3 & 4) and VXR (Mk5), many of which formed the basis for heroic motorsport campaigns in both international rallying and the British Touring Car Championship.
Moving on three decades and the 2010 Astra Mk6 carries the mantle from its predecessors with pride. A driver's car through and through, it features a clever Watt's linkage/compound crank rear suspension design and unique-in-class nine-beam AFL lighting system, highlights which illustrate Vauxhall's continued passion for innovation and bringing new technology to a wider audience.