Mk2 Astra (Also Opel Kadett E) – 1984-1991

Voted European Car of the Year for 1985, thanks to its modern aerodynamic styling and wide range of engines, the second generation Vauxhall Astra was sold in the rest of Europe as the Opel Kadett.

The Astra Mk 2 was essentially a redesign of the Mk1, utilising the same range of engines and running gear, but with a completely restyled more modem body shape. The range comprised of estate, hatchback, saloon and cabriolet versions (built by Bertone). The 3-box saloon was called the Belmont in the UK, and Opel Monza in South Africa).

Available engines ranged from the old but economical 1.2 OHV, 1.3 and 1.6 8v OHC units, all the way up to the range topping 1.8 8v GTE - and soon afterwards the classic 2.0 GTE, 8v and 16v, versions were introduced. Later in the run the 1.3 was replaced by a 14 8v

Early GTE’s featured an electronic dash with digital speedometer, however this was received as a bit gimmicky, and traditional analogue instrumentation returned in later models.

The 2.0 16v twin-camshaft engine developed 156 hp in standard form, giving excellent performance in its day. The 16v GTE was successfully used in both rallying and touring cars, and won the BTCC championship in 1989 with John Cleland in the driving seat.

The Mk2 was also sold in Brazil as Chevrolet Kadett, however three-door estate was called the Chevrolet Ipanema.

The second generation Astra was discontinued on the launch of MK3 in 1991, but the basic car continued for another six years as the Korean-built Daewoo Nexia.

During (and after) its UK lifetime the Mk2 formed the basis of several other cars namely the…

  • Daewoo Nexia - also called the Cielo, Racer, Le Mans and Heaven –depending on country
  • Asüna SE & GT in Canada
  • Passport Optima in Canada
  • Pontiac LeMans in New Zealand, Canada and USA

The Nexia is still being produced in Uzbekistan by UzDaewoo – making The Mk2 the longest produced Astra by far, having been made in one form or another for over 25 years.