Oldie and a goodie
European-built Astras came in varied shapes and specs. Look for low kilometres
Before the global financial crisis triggered a move to Koreanbuilt cars, Holden’s small car was the Astra, a German-designed, European-built import, and a most popular one at that.
The AH series Astra came our way in 2005 in a range of body styles, including a sporty coupe, a practical hatch, a wagon and a hot turbo model to top it off. There was also a convertible but that isn’t covered here.
With its European roots, the Astra delivered on the expectations of a dynamic drive for those who wanted to enjoy the journey. There was a model for everyone, no matter their motoring needs.
The coupe was aimed at those who wanted a stylish ride and didn’t have a tribe to transport. It had the looks to impress but fitted only four adults. High on practicality, the five-door hatch and wagon were the family choices.
The turbocharged hot hatch was definitely for those who wanted to be thrilled when they got behind the wheel.
There was also plenty of choice when it came to specification, with the CD kicking things off and the CDX and CDXi adding plenty of features. The SRi hot hatch had all you could want plus turbocharged performance.
Most buyers opted for the 1.8-litre four-cylinder, which had decent performance for the class. It produced 90kW at launch and got an extra 13kW in 2007.
A 1.9-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel entered the picture in 2006 and was an attractive option with its economy and, thanks to its torque, driveability.
The SRi fulfilled hot hatch expectations with its 2.0-litre turbo four.
A five-speed manual was the base transmission for regular petrol models with the option of a four-speed auto.
The turbo diesels had a choice of six-speed auto and manual, and the SRi turbo came with a six-speed manual.
The previous model struck trouble when cam timing belts on the 1.8-litre petrol engine began failing before the scheduled 100,000km change point, meaning an expensive engine repair for many owners.
Holden responded by reducing the service interval to 60,000km, which carried over to the AH. Most examples would have passed this mark, so make sure a potential purchase has had the work done.
The turbo diesel also has a belt, but its service interval is 100,000km and there are no breakage issues with this engine.
Check for signs of a hard life when driving a turbocharged SRi — smoke from the tailpipe under hard acceleration is a good indicator of wear.
A service record is a must. It gives a good indication of a caring owner, and alternatively if the servicing has been neglected one that doesn’t care.
The Astra was generally well built and shouldn’t squeak or rattle to any major degree. If squeaks and rattles can be heard, it could indicate the car has been in a crash.
Being a relatively old model now it’s a good idea to look for the external signs of crash repairs in the form of misaligned panels or mismatched paint.
Shop around for one that hasn’t got a lot of kilometres, has been regularly serviced, and appears to have been well looked after.
Marcus Gehrmann I bought a 1.9-litre CDTi in 2006. Loved the grunt and the solid “thunk” closing the doors but hated the long-throw gearshift, faux wheel nut covers, lack of cup holders and rear interior light, costly wiper blades and expensive servicing. Several engine problems were rectified within the warranty period but the alternator and airconditioning compressor both went, just out of warranty, and each was very expensive to replace. In summary, it was a massive money pit, and my advice would be to avoid them. Kerry Whiteman The 1.8-litre engine is a beauty if you change the oil every 5000km and change the timing belt and water pump on or before GM’s recommended mark. The ignition module on top of the engine generally fails before 100,000km. The auto transmission is bulletproof, the brakes and steering are OK, but there’s no temperature gauge — and definitely do not buy a red one.
Stefan Sherkat Having owned a TS I felt confident about buying a new AH CDX coupe for my girlfriend. The 1.8-litre engine was efficient and the build quality was on par with the Golf. It had excellent noise suppression and poise on the road. We never had any issues and Holden servicing and spare parts prices put VW to shame. I also bought an SRi. The build quality was again perfect and the engine had distinctly more torque. The annual service costs were low.
Jeff Green I have a 2007 CD wagon. The handling is fantastic, the brakes are great, I’ve done 70,000km on the original pads, and there have been no mechanical issues. I miss a temperature gauge, the dash is hard to read when the sun is low and the replacement interval on the timing belt is very short.
Maurie Reilly The only expense on my 2005 Astra has been a puncture in a back tyre. All tyres and battery are original and the vehicle is working perfectly. I am very pleased with it.
Jackie McLaughlin The Astra we bought new in 2005 has done 43,000km and I’m happy
to say it is the best car we have ever owned. We have had it serviced as per the book and have never had any major problems. It starts first pop even if it has been sitting for two or three weeks, is a joy to drive, responds to touch, picks up speed when needed and has excellent steering. I have no desire to sell it.
A good buy if you can find a well-cared-for example with low kilometres.