By Mike Torpey on 2016-02-16 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
THE first Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer models have rolled off the production line at the company's plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, ahead of its March launch date.
Leading the way was an Elite 1.6CDTi variant, in Flip Chip Silver, and plant workers were joined by General Motors directors Peter Thom and Stefan Fesser (above).
Thom, the company's vice president for global manufacturing, was on hand to present staff at the Ellesmere Port factory the 2015 Winner for Safety award, won by the plant.
Ellesmere Port is a significant contributor to the local and national economies building more than five million vehicles since 1964.
The factory, which at full production can build around 680 cars per day and 120,000 per year, is also a major exporter with 52 per cent of production going to 25 European markets.
Like its five-door hatch stablemate, the Sports Tourer is based on a new lightweight design and extends the lines of the five-door Astra.
But a slightly arched sloping roofline gives the Sports Tourer a longer appearance, an effect further enhanced by the divided rear pillar.
Otherwise it has the same dimensions as the outgoing model while offering more space for passengers and luggage.
Engines comprise petrol and diesel units ranging from 100ps to 200ps, including a new 1.4-litre (150ps) ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo and the recently-launched 1.6-litre CDTi Whisper Diesel.
The Astra Sports Tourer also features technology including a high-speed 4G LTE mobile network, emergency response notification and stolen vehicle recovery alert.
The Sports Tourer is also one of the first vehicles from a mainstream manufacturer to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available through a new version of the IntelliLink infotainment system.
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