Vauxhall has given outline details of the engine range to be fitted to its new British-built Astra model. The main theme is a reduction in engine sizes – at least where the petrol engines are concerned - in the interests of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, but without sacrificing performance.

For example, the 1.8 litre petrol engine in the current Astra range will be replaced by a 1.4 litre turbocharged unit in the new car that delivers the same power and 15 per cent more torque while emitting less CO2. This move mirrors closely the adoption of a turbocharged 1.4 litre as a substitute for larger engines by Vauxhall's rival, Volkswagen.

The full initial Astra line-up consists of 1.4 litre and 1.6 litre petrol engines in both turbo and non-turbo forms, and 1.3 litre, 1.7 litre and 2.0 litre diesels – although that would appear to leave room for sportier options to be added later on.

In the meantime, the negotiations to rescue GM's European operations – Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Germany and elsewhere – by recruiting a strategic investor to take a large minority stake, are still dragging on.

The German unions and government favour a consortium led by Magna, the Canadian parts supplier and contract manufacturer of fully built-up vehicles for established car brands, while GM itself and other national governments whose countries host GM plants seem reluctant to shut out the main rival bidder, the private equity firm RHJ International, at this stage.

The German government, which is expected to stump up the bulk of the financial support required for the Opel/Vauxhall rescue, is desperate to tie things up before this year's German general election, which takes place on 27 September, so it's touch and go whether Vauxhall and Opel's future will be secure by the time the new Astra goes on show to the public for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 17 September.

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