Just when we thought the Cruze replaced it, the Astra is coming back!
The Astra name has been around for a while and at times was the second-best-selling Holden after the Commodore. It was based on an Opel and rebadged Holden for the New Zealand and Australian market. It now looks like the model is returning after the Cruze replaced it a few years ago and Holden is expecting to sell Astra’s in large numbers.
There will be a five-door hatchback, a three-door hatch and a station wagon. All these new Astra models will be well equipped. There will be a diesel version like the Mazda3 and Holden Cruze, and it should be more affordable than the comparable Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
With a diesel engine producing 121kW, the Astra will be the most powerful diesel in the small-car market and unlike the others the Astra’s diesel can also be partnered with a 6-speed auto instead of a standard 6-speed manual. The engine is reported to be lively and provides plenty of positive feedback. There will be enough torque at the low end that you are not forced to change gears all day long.
We looked at some recent road tests and according to the trip computer, the Astra averaged 6.3 L per 100km. This figure could be different for city driving, as there was very few occasions they used the engine stop-start system, due to motorway and back road driving. The engine was fairly quiet but wind noise can be an issue at higher speeds.
We have also read reports saying that the Astra suffers from sloppy steering. You need constant driver input on the steering wheel to keep the car straight even on motorway driving. The handling was smooth but maybe lacking the sharpness shown by the Focus and Mazda3.
The Astra hatch comes with six airbags, active headrests and stability control as standard and most important comes with a five-star independent crash rating from NCAP.
The interior across the range will be a step up over the old Astra. The feel and look of quality will be elevated by the use of soft plastics and smooth grain surfaces. A nice touch is the red ambient lighting under the gearbox that matches the illumination of the dash controls and instrument cluster.
The Astra may not be as keenly priced across its range and not up to the VW Golf’s class but it should be a worthy consideration for any small-car buyers.