Everyone knows the Holden Astra nameplate, in terms of brand recognition it’s as familiar as Pulsar, Corolla and in the good old days the Ford Laser. But the Astra overtime has been rested from time to time and even sported the badge of its donor brand Opel. With the demise of the locally made Cruze, Holden would be hoping the latest European designed Astra will fill a pretty big gap. Chris Bowen looks at the base model in the range, the Holden Astra R hatchback.
Engine / Transmission: 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol. 6-speed automatic. AWD.
Vital Stats: 110kW/245Nm
Holden Claimed Fuel Economy: 5.8L / 100km
EFTM Claimed Fuel Economy: 6.3 L/ 100km
Price: From $20,490
The Astra is a pleasant looking thing, simple as that. Stare at it for a while and you may spot some Golf or a smidge of a BMW 1 Series. As far as a European car goes it ticks all the boxes, it’s suave, sophisticated and just looks well put together. Holden also has injected what we the locals want, handling for our conditions. Kia’s Aussie suspension tuning program is the benchmark but Holden certainly knows a thing or two about what we want. You may wonder why this is so important, well to put it bluntly our roads are crap. Many normally great European cars are ruined by stiff suspension tunes that are designed for silky European highways and well-maintained country roads. The Astra is very well sorted, able to cope with most surfaces and is a reasonably sharp steer.
For a base model the Astra R is well equipped, to a point. The standard kit includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ radio, reversing camera, LED daytime running lights and 17’’ wheels. You’ll need to step up to the R+ model to score important safety gear. The R misses out on forward collision alert with AEB City Stop, technology that should be standard on every car.
For added piece of mind Holden now offers a seven-year or 175,000km warranty. The interior has been significantly decluttered, particularly around the 7’’ MyLink touchscreen. Although overall the cabin, while semi-premium, does lack imagination and is basically stark.
The 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder feels willing but don’t expect any more than moderate performance. The sprint time to highway speeds would near the eight to nine second mark. While the ride and suspension setup is commendable, there’s a disconnect between driver and car. The steering is too light and artificial for my liking and overall just misses the mark when it comes to the all-important engagement factor. To score an automatic, the price blows out to $24,190, so when on roads costs are thrown in, the Astra R may become less palatable for some.
The Sweeping Statement.
The Holden Astra R hatchback is a quality European vehicle that feels expertly assembled. But it misses out on true dynamic flair, suffers from a boring interior and sits in a hugely competitive segment. But for Holden it’s also currently one of its best offerings, so if you’re loyal to the brand the Astra could be a winner. I award the Holden Astra R the EFTM Pass Rubber Stamp of Approval.