Oldie and a goodie

Euro­pean-built As­tras came in var­ied shapes and specs. Look for low kilo­me­tres

The Courier-Mail - Cars Guide - - Used Car -

NEW

Be­fore the global fi­nan­cial crisis trig­gered a move to Kore­an­built cars, Holden’s small car was the As­tra, a Ger­man­designed, 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.

NOW

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.

OWN­ERS SAY

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.

SMITHY SAYS

A good buy if you can find a well-cared-for ex­am­ple with low kilo­me­tres.

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