Recently released: Holden Astra and Cascada

Holden has wound the clock back nearly 20 years with the return of the Astra nameplate to the Australian market.

The sporty two-door hatch was launched on the Gold Coast late April simultaneously with a newcomer to the local market, the Cascada four-seater convertible (pictured above).

The Astra and Cascada are both designed and engineered in Germany, at Opel’s Russelsheim base.

Their appearance marks the beginning of a new product onslaught by Holden, with 24 major vehicle launches and 36 powertrain combinations planned over the next five years.

The refreshed 2015 Astra is available in warm hatch guise in GTC and GTC Sport trim levels, while the more powerful VXR (pictured below) makes its presence felt as Holden’s hot hatch hero.

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The GTC and GTC Sport are equipped with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine coupled with six-speed manual or automatic transmission. With the latter, the engine provides 125kW of power and 260Nm of torque. Coupled with the manual, power is boosted to 147kW and torque rises to 280Nm.

The Astra comes with a high-tech HiPerStrut front suspension to offer improved handling and direct steering response. With a shortened spindle length and reduced kingpin inclination, the HiPerStrut helps prevent the torque steer so often seen in powerful front-wheel-drive cars.

Inside, Sportec-bolster sports seats and Holden’s award-winning MyLink infotainment take centre stage. The MyLink system comes with a seven-inch colour screen, integrated Pandora, Stitcher and TuneIn Radio apps, as well as satellite navigation.

The GTC Sport adds 19-inch alloy wheels, alloy sports pedals, leather-appointed sports seats and a sports body kit.

The flagship VXR boasts a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which is able to unleash 206kW of power and 400Nm of torque. Brembo front brakes provide the ‘whoa’ to match the ‘go’ while the electro-hydraulic steering has been tuned for a direct, engaging steering feel.

Holden claims the VXR is as at home in the city as it is on track. Key to its versatility is the FlexRide tuning system that allows drivers to choose from three pre-configured ride settings, according to their environment:

  • Standard – all-round performance with comfort
  • Sport – stiffer chassis, improved agility and more direct steering
  • VXR – more direct steering, more responsive throttle, and tuned for maximum performance.

The VXR rides on 20-inch alloy wheels and comes dressed to thrill with sports body kit, alloy sports pedals and VXR-unique steering wheel.

As well as offering the same MyLink infotainment as the GTC and GTC Sport, the VXR shows off eight-way adjustable, leather-appointed sports seats with power bolsters and lumbar support for both driver and passenger.

Dynamically, the Cascada has been engineered with strength and rigidity in mind, ensuring drivers get the balance between solid cornering performance and the freedom associated with driving a convertible, according to the maker.

The triple-layered, acoustic power hood is able to be retracted in 17 seconds, while on the move at speeds of up to 50km/h.

Standard equipment includes perforated leather-appointed seats and MyLink.

A limited number of 50 Cascada Launch Edition vehicles will be available to celebrate the return of the convertible body style to the Holden range.

Cascada Launch Edition adds premium Nappa leather-appointed and ventilated front seats and a leather sports steering wheel. The car’s exterior is significantly differentiated with 20-inch alloy wheels, Adaptive Forward Lighting, and Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED Daylight Running Lamps.

Recommended retail prices, excluding dealer delivery and government charges, are:

  • Astra GTC, manual, $26,990
  • Astra GTC, automatic, $29,190
  • Astra GTC Sport, manual, $29,990
  • Astra GTC Sport, automatic, $32,190
  • Astra VXR, manual, $39,990
  • Cascada, automatic, $41,990
  • Cascada Launch Edition, automatic, $44,990.

By Barry Green