The Astra is now built in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, India, Poland and Russia, as well as being assembled in CKD (completely knocked-down) kits in other countries. It competes mainly against the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
As of 2006, there have been three generations of the vehicle. In a fashion typical for Opel models, they are designated with subsequent letters of the Latin alphabet. Opel's official convention is to continue the Opel Kadett lineage, thus referring to the first generation of Opel Astra as the Astra F (the last Opel Kadett was the Kadett E). Another convention used by GM starts with Astra A, adopting the notion that the Astra is a separate model. Models sold as Vauxhall, Holden or Chevrolet have different generation designations reflecting the history of those nameplates in their home markets and their naming conventions.
The Astra G was launched in Europe in 1998. It was available as a 3 and 5-door hatchback, 4-door saloon and two special versions: the Astra CoupÃ© and the Astra Cabrio, both of them designed and built by Bertone. The biggest innovation is the introduction of a natural gas-powered engine. Its chassis was tuned by Lotus and formed the base of a seven-seater compact MPV, the Opel Zafira.
In some markets, such as Australia and New Zealand, the Polish-built Astra G was sold as the Astra Classic alongside the Astra H, as a rival to South Korean imports. It has now been replaced by the Daewoo Lacetti, but has been re-badged as the Holden Viva. It currently continues as the Chevrolet Astra in Latin America. In 2004, GM-AvtoVAZ, GM's joint venture with VAZ, launched the Chevrolet Viva, a four-door version of the Astra G.
GM Europe launched Astra H at the end of 2003 and early 2004, depending on the market. Based on the then-new Delta platform, its size was increased, the engines improved and the styling and interior made distinctly more dynamic. Handling was further improved with each engine provided with its own Lotus-tuned suspension settings. It is so far available as a five-door hatchback, a five-door Caravan estate and a sporty three-door hatchback, designated the GTC for European markets, Sport Hatch in the UK and the CoupÃ© in Australia. The GTC has the option of a panoramic windscreen (unique for a production car at the time of its launch) which extends into the roof area.