GM car brand Opel is set to open its doors in Australia on September 1 with three new models. But two of them, the Corsa and the Astra, may seem very familiar with Australian buyers. That’s because they used to be Holdens.
You don’t have to be a car nut to remember the Holden Astra of the late 90s and early 00s. It was one of the most popular cars on the road and you’ll still see a stack of them around. Then there was the Holden Barina… or still is the Holden Barina. But the Barina’s golden days ended in the early 00s, coincidentally, when it became based on a Daewoo rather than a, you guessed it, Opel Corsa.
For Opel, they are coming into a market that is already saturated. There are more car brands in Australia than there are in Japan, despite Japan having more than three times our population. Even the US barely has more car brands than us. So why would the struggling GM even consider Opel for Australia?
We have no answers to that question, but luckily for them, there is already a bit of brand presence in Australia. Not only are people familiar with its cars (just with Holden badges on them), but some people even insist on sticking Opel badges on their Holdens. Ever see a Holden with a horizontal lightening bolt through a circle? Then you’ve seen an Opel badge.
On September 1 you will be able to pick yourself up and Opel Corsa, Astra or the unfamiliar Insignia. The brand with German heritage hasn’t yet listed the prices of the cars but has said that it will not be positioning Opel as a luxury brand, just as a European brand. So the distinction between the Holden cars and the Opel cars looks like it will be even less.
For those who like a bit of speed, there will also be a hot hatch version of the Opel Astra, the GTC, with 132kW of power from the ECOTEC engine.
So, Holden fans out there or those looking for a new set of wheels: Would you buy an Opel over a Holden? EFTM is sitting on the fence on this one. It’s great to see the Astra back but it’s a big question mark as to whether or not the brand can take hold down under.
Web: Opel Australia
Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men’s Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney’s North Shore with his girlfriend.