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October 2010

Chassis, Steering, Brakes

Athletic All-rounder: Outstanding Steering Response, Ride Comfort

         Innovative in a compact wagon: Watt’s link rear suspension
         Mechatronic chassis: FlexRide adaptive suspension with driver-selective settings
         Active safety: An array of electronic systems

Istanbul/Rüsselsheim. On the move, the Astra Sports Tourer is as athletic as it looks,
offering the same agile handling as the five-door hatchback. Opel engineers have
developed a car that is fun-to-drive, while focusing on improving steering response and
ride comfort compared to the current Astra station wagon. The chassis offers Opel’s
FlexRide mechatronic technology, a rarity in the compact wagon segment.

The Astra Sports Tourer shares the same footprint as the hatchback, with a wheelbase of
2685 mm and wide front and rear tracks of 1544 and 1558 mm respectively. Spring and
damper rates have been adapted for its greater load carrying potential.

The rear axle features Opel’s innovative combination of a compound crank and Watt’s link,
as first seen on the hatchback. This ingenious arrangement, unique to Opel, gives the
Astra Sports Tourer agile handling without compromising stability or comfort. The front
suspension uses the McPherson strut layout from the Insignia and Astra hatchback.

Mechatronic chassis technology, which fully integrates mechanical functions and electronic
controls, is offered with the sophisticated FlexRide adaptive suspension system. This is
exceptional in the compact segment and another example of how Opel is making
advanced features available at affordable prices.

Compared to the current Astra station wagon, the Astra Sports Tourer’s body structure is
18 percent stiffer in torsion and some 94 percent more resistant to bending. This provides

Adam Opel GmbH                         media.opel.com
D-65423 Rüsselsheim
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a firm base for optimizing handling and ride, as well as helping to lower noise and
vibrations inside the cabin.

Innovative Watt’s link rear suspension

Opel engineers in Rüsselsheim have enhanced the highly efficient compound crank rear
suspension with a Watt’s link. This arrangement retains the advantages in size, weight and
overall efficiency of the compound crank and adds the Watt’s link to support lateral forces
during cornering. The result is an innovative rear suspension layout that reduces unwanted
noise and vibrations, allows a comfortable ride and improves the vehicle’s handling.

The Watt’s link provides greater wheel camber stiffness, compensates for body roll and
maintains a constant track width, greatly enhancing lateral stability. The link is carried on a
small cross-member attached to the underbody, just behind the rear wheel center line. It
consists of a short, pivoting center link with ball joints at each end, to which the lateral links
from the wheels are bolted.

On the road, this link helps the trailing arms of the compound crank resist the impact of
lateral loadings and road shocks. The action of the pivot and its links ensures that when a
force is applied to either rear wheel, an equal force is simultaneously exerted in the
opposite direction on the other wheel. This effectively prevents any sideways movement of
the axle. According to thorough simulations and real life testing, the Watt’s link absorbs
about 80 percent of all lateral loadings on the rear suspension.

The Watt’s link also reduces axle bushing loads and therefore allows the use of softer
bushings. This is why comfort, road noise and isolation are all greatly improved. Last but
not least, the Watt’s link has also enabled an improvement in the geometry of the
compound crank’s trailing arms.

The front suspension consists of McPherson struts with de-coupled top mountings that
separate the paths of spring and damper loadings. To reduce unsprung weight and assist
weight distribution, the combined strut carrier and the lower control arms are made of
aluminum and the anti-roll bar is in hollow section steel.
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FlexRide adaptive chassis leads compact class

Opel was the first manufacturer to introduce an advanced adaptive damping system to the
compact class in 2003. Now FlexRide, Opel’s new adaptive damping system first launched
with the Insignia in 2008, features a new generation of mechatronic chassis control, fully
integrated from the beginning of the new Astra development program.

The electronic brain behind FlexRide is the Driving Mode Control (DMC) module. It
constantly monitors prevailing road conditions, vehicle movements and individual driving
style, including acceleration, braking and cornering, to optimize chassis behavior. All four
dampers, the steering system and the action of the throttle are electronically controlled,
continuously adapting within milliseconds to the current driving situation. It provides an
optimum balance between performance, comfort, driving fun and safety.

By pressing the the “Tour” or the “Sport” button in the center stack, FlexRide also enables
drivers to reduce the bandwidth of chassis and vehicle settings to match their own driving
needs for a particular journey. The chassis system continues to be adaptive, but in a more
reduced range of respectively more comfortable or more sporty settings. Thanks to the
very wide damper operating window, the system always finds the right answer to daily
driving conditions.

In the Standard mode, the dampers are continuously adapted to the driving situation,
offering the optimal compromise between comfort and efficiency. The Tour mode operates
in the most comfortable zone of settings: the dampers are set in a softer mode and the car
adopts a smoother ride.

The Sport mode offers a sharper, more connected driving experience. The action of the
dampers is stiffened up; the electronic throttle provides a swifter pedal response and the
level of power steering assistance is reduced. To underline the effect, the instrument panel
illumination changes from white to red. With an automatic transmission, the up-shift points
are also raised to a higher engine speed. If fitted, the Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL+)
system reacts even more quickly. As a further refinement, the Sport mode includes a
customization menu accessible via the board computer or navigation display, allowing the
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driver to de-select the Sport setting for the dampers, steering assistance or the throttle

FlexRide is available as an option for Enjoy, Sport and Cosmo variants with all engines,
except the naturally-aspirated gasoline entry-level 1.4 and the 1.3 CDTI units.

Steering: Electrical speed-sensitive assistance improves feel and saves fuel

The Astra Sports Tourer’s rack-and-pinion steering system provides speed-sensitive
assistance electrically powered by a motor, mounted directly on the steering rack rather
than the base of the steering column.

This layout ensures an improved driving feel when turning the wheel. At low speeds, the
level of power assistance is increased to minimize steering effort. At higher speeds,
assistance is automatically reduced for a higher degree of steering feel. The system
benefits fuel economy because an energy-consuming pump working all the time is not
required and it responds directly to the prevailing speed.

Space-saving Electric Parking Brake (EPB)

The Electric Parking Brake (EPB), standard in the new Astra on Sport and Cosmo trim
levels, optional on Enjoy, is an easy-to-use feature that provides enhanced convenience,
as well as additional storage space in the center console.

To activate the EPB, the driver simply pulls a switch located near the gearshift, instead of a
conventional handbrake lever. An electrical signal is sent to actuators, clamping the rear
brake calipers. The EPB can secure the car on gradients as steep as 30 degrees and is
automatically disengaged when the vehicle drives off.

It is combined with a Hill Start Assist (HSA) function, which helps minimize downhill
movement of the car and puts less stress on the clutch (and the driver) when taking off on
an uphill slope. HSA briefly maintains pressure on all four brakes to minimize the possibility
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of the vehicle moving backwards when the driver steps from the brake to the accelerator
pedal while engaging the clutch.

Braking and multiple active safety systems

The dual-circuit braking system comprises one of two brake disk combinations, which are
fitted according to engine power. The 15-inch specification, fitted for 1.4, 1.6, 1.4 Turbo
and 1.3 CDTI variants, uses 276 mm ventilated front disks and 268 mm solid rear disks,
clamped by single piston calipers. The 16-inch version, for 1.6 Turbo, 1.7 CDTI and 2.0
CDTI models, has 300 mm ventilated front and 292 mm solid rear disks.

A high level of active safety is provided by Electronic Stability Control (ESC), which is fitted
as standard across the range and includes Traction Control (TC) and a four-channel ABS
(Anti-lock Braking System). Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) ensures an optimal
braking force is applied on both axles for maximum stability under heavy braking.

Other braking functions under ESC direction:

      Cornering Brake Control (CBC) is activated when the car is braking while cornering.
       Brake pressure is individually varied between all four wheels in order to keep the
       car perfectly stable.
      Cornering Torque Control (CTC) prevents the inner wheel from slipping when
       cornering under acceleration, thereby minimizing any understeer tendency.
      Electronic Drag Torque Control (EDC) keeps the wheels from blocking when the
       throttle is released too quickly or during an abrupt downshift.
      Brake Assist System (BAS) helps the driver apply optimal braking power in
       emergency braking situations.
      Adaptive brake lights warn following drivers by pulsing five times per second when
       the ABS is engaged at speeds above 30 km/h. All three brake lights are activated.
      Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist (HBFA) automatically raises braking pressure to
       compensate for brake fade under repeated applications of heavy braking.
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      Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) is active when an Opel-approved towing hitch is fitted.
       TSA counters any vehicle instability that may occur when towing a trailer or caravan
       by reducing the engine torque and applying brake pressure to selected wheels.


Jean-Philippe Kempf
Tel: +49 (0) 6142 7 66651
Mobile: +49 (0)160 906 08956

Nathalie Van Impe
+ 49 6142 7 66166 (office)
+ 49 151 174 73959 (mobile)

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