Astra is a model-name which has been used by Vauxhall, the British subsidiary of General Motors (GM), on their small family car ranges since 1979. Astras are technically essentially identical with similar vehicles offered by GM's German subsidiary Opel in most other European countries. For the first two generations, the nameplate was applied to UK spec right-hand drive versions of Opel Kadett (which it was sold as in the Republic of Ireland in right-hand drive), and since 1991, Opel also uses the Astra nameplate, so Vauxhall and Opel Astras are essentially identical vehicles. General Motors' Saturn division in America also offers the Astra since late 2007.
The Astra name originated with Vauxhall's 1979 model, though the car was designed and built a year earlier in Germany as an Opel Kadett. This model replaced the Vauxhall Viva in the UK, along with some versions of the Vauxhall Chevette. However, the Chevette remained available for several years afterwards until the Vauxhall Nova was launched. The Astra was Vauxhall's first model to have front wheel drive. Not all trim levels were available with all body styles
Production began at Opel's West German plant at Bochum in August 1979, and the first British customers took delivery of their cars in February 1980.