Snapped this weekend, here are the first spy-shots of the new car undergoing cold-weather testing in northern Finland.

When Ford released their re-designed Focus recently and the first spy-shots popped up of the new Volkswagen Golf VI, there was always one question nobody was able to answer: What was Opel doing to their Astra range? Here’s now the pictures that proves it: the third important German hatchback will be replaced by an all-new model a good half year after VW is going to release the new Golf. Therefore, we expect the new Opel Astra to debut in Geneva in March 2009. Snapped this weekend, here are the first spy-shots of the new car undergoing cold-weather testing in northern Finland.

Despite the car’s seizure inducing disguise, the side profile, front fascia, massive rear bumper and tail lights overall shape are visible. While we can’t provide any insight into the 3-door model yet, it seems to be clear the five-door version will again get the current model’s sloping roof line plus the trapezoidal-shaped c-post. Overall, the new car looks somewhat sleeker and yet more elegant. Besides the 5-door model pictured here, Opel has a wagon, convertible and the 3-door in the pipeline, all following the 5-doors introduction one by one.

The engine range will be similar to that used in today’s cars (75- to 240-bhp petrol units; 90- to 150-bhp diesels). But we do expect greener engines to arrive shortly after the car’s introduction in about one year.

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