Holden wins as Europe’s best car

Whitsunday Times - - MOTORING -

COME on Holden fans – quit blub­bing into your com­mem­o­ra­tive V8 Com­modore mugs and get ready to em­brace a brave new world.

Lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing may be com­ing to an end next year, but surely you’re start­ing to come around to the in­flux of for­eign-sourced gems? The As­tra badge may not set your heart a-thump­ing, but by all ac­counts the all-new model, which goes on sale here late this year, looks set to be a bloody good of­fer­ing.

Well, ac­cord­ing to our es­teemed au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ist col­leagues in Europe it is, any­way. A 58-strong jury of motoring journos from 22 Euro­pean coun­tries placed the Opel/Vaux­hall As­tra first in the Euro­pean Car of The Year 2016 awards, ahead of Volvo’s new XC90 SUV and Mazda’s MX-5 (this news­pa­per’s and Wheels mag­a­zine’s car of the year for 2016).

It’s a strong PR win for Holden ahead of the new As­tra’s ar­rival here, where it will sport a Holden badge, not least be­cause it beat 40 new cars, from sporty road­sters to premium lim­ou­sines and SUVs, to take out the cov­eted award.

Holden ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of sales Peter Ke­ley said As­tra would re­de­fine Holden in the small car seg­ment.

“We al­ready knew that As­tra was a world-beat­ing ve­hi­cle, and this lat­est pres­ti­gious award ce­ments those cre­den­tials,” he said.

“As­tra is a crit­i­cal part of Holden’s plan to launch 24 new mod­els by the end of 2020 as we re­fresh or re­place ev­ery model in the Holden ve­hi­cle port­fo­lio.”

For the sake of jour­nal­is­tic bal­ance, it’s im­pos­si­ble not to look back through the years and eval­u­ate, with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, some of the pre­vi­ous Euro­pean Car of the Year vic­tors as voted for by the motoring press.

Re­cent years’ re­sults all look a bit bor­ing and pre­dictable, the gongs go­ing to elec­tric cars and lots of Volk­swa­gens. There’s a joke in there some­where about zero emis­sions ver­sus cheat emis­sions, but I’ll leave it.

Rather com­i­cally, the Simca 1307/Chrysler Alpine (an­other rusty treat) beat the BMW 3 Se­ries in 1976 - no prizes for guess­ing which model has proved the most en­dur­ing. Then in 1990, Citroen’s XM some­how scored al­most dou­ble the points of the run­ner-up (Merc’s SL), de­spite be­ing un­der­de­vel­oped at launch, lead­ing to re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems, and be­ing, well, bloody ugly.

But this shouldn’t take any­thing away from the in­com­ing prize-win­ning As­tra soon to be sport­ing a Holden badge. De­spite small car sales dwin­dling here, The Euro As­tra seems like one to look for­ward to.

Euro­pean Car of The Year 2016, the Opel As­tra.

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