By Russell Manning
It has the likes of top selling small cars such as Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf squarely in its sights.
While it was designed in Germany and built in Poland, Holden engineers have been an integral part of the project right from the start, and had considerable input into the new car’s specification, design, and final calibration. They developed a Holden-specific steering tune to accommodate Australian conditions and buyer expectations, contributed to the auto transmission calibration process and used their extensive gravel road experience to fine-tune the stability and traction control systems.
The model line-up comprises the entry level R, starting at $21,990; mid-spec RS, $26,490; and top-of-the-line RS-V, $30,990. All prices are exclusive of on-road costs.
The specification list is heavy on safety and convenience features, with a rear-view camera, rear park assist, Apple Car Play, Android phone projection, DAB+ and cruise control standard on all. RS models add front park assist, advanced park assist (self-parking), AEB, lane keep assist, forward distance indicator, forward collision alert, and blind spot alert. The RS-V also has Holden MyLink infotainment system, navigation, and colour digital instrument display.
While RS and RS-V have a five-star ANCAP safety rating, which was calculated from their Euro NCAP scores, the entry level R is still to be tested and allocated an Australian rating.
Two engines are used: an all-new light weight 110 kW 1.4 litre in R models; and a 146kW 1.6 litre for RS and RS-V. Both are direct injection and turbocharged for efficiency. A six-speed manual or six-speed auto (an additional $2200) is available across the range. Combined cycle fuel consumption for R models is 5.8 litres/100km on 91 RON fuel, while RS and RS-V return 6.5 and 6.3 respectively on PULP.
In many ways, the new Astra is a generic small hatch, though it’s clearly a huge leap forward over the old model. Styling is distinctive and contemporary and it’s arguably a bit more interesting than some of its competitors. It’s also very nicely built, with a high standard of fit and finish.
Inside, the layout is typical of the segment, though it’s probably a bit more stylish than some of its competitors. There’s plenty of soft touch trim materials and some very stylish piano black trims and chrome highlights that add a real touch of class. All models have a similar look and feel, with the spec levels being differentiated by the trim materials used – cloth in lower specs and leather for premium models – and a larger central display screen in the RS-V.
But it’s on the road that the quality of Holden’s engineering work is evident. Not only are ride and handling up there with the best in class, they would do justice to something with a much higher price tag and a sportier disposition.
Like many European vehicles, the option list is comprehensive:
Eight exterior paint colours are available, however six are regarded as prestige colours that attract a $500 premium.
To sweeten the deal, a capped price servicing program applies that limits service costs to $916 for the first 60,000km or three years.
The on-sale date is December 1, but the full range of models and options won’t be available until the second quarter of 2017.