Holden As­tra

“Can I get pad­dles with that?” asks Damien O’car­roll of the award win­ning As­tra.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

Holden has been mak­ing much of the fact that the As­tra was awarded the Euro­pean Car of the Year gong in 2016 and be­fore we even start this re­view, I have to say that I can eas­ily see why it won. Now, while that may get things off on an over­whelm­ingly good frame of mind, this is not to say the As­tra is per­fect. But more on that later. The As­tra you see here is the range-top­ping RS-V model that comes with the 1.6-litre turbo en­gine and all the bells and whis­tles. On the out­side, the As­tra is a hand­some and dis­tinctly Euro­pean lit­tle car, with nice de­tail touches and a sleek and sweep­ing de­sign. Much like the out­side the in­te­rior is dis­tinctly Euro­pean and is well-made and put to­gether, with qual­ity plas­tics and other ma­te­ri­als. The sexy sculpted steer­ing wheel feels great and the seats are nicely com­fort­able and sup­port­ive. On the in­fo­tain­ment side of things, the lat­est ver­sion of Holden’s Mylink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is bril­liant, with pos­si­bly the best in­te­gra­tion of phone pro­jec­tion yet. And while all of this is very good in­deed, it has to be said that both in­side and out the As­tra does look a wee bit, well, dated. And that is be­cause, while it is just ar­riv­ing here now, the As­tra was re­leased two years ago in Europe and the de­sign does look it. How­ever, none of that re­ally mat­ters as long as it drives well, and here the As­tra re­ally drives its COTY win home in style. The 1.6 L turbo en­gine is fan­tas­ti­cally flex­i­ble and ea­ger to rev, while the sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is quick and su­perbly smooth. Heaps of mid-range grunt means the en­gine never runs out of puff through cor­ners, while it is smooth and re­fined around town. Point it to­wards a wind­ing road and the As­tra re­veals a won­der­fully lithe and ath­letic na­ture that turns and sharply and hangs on tena­ciously and with re­mark­able con­fi­dence and poise. The As­tra is a true de­light to throw into a cor­ner, the front-end obe­di­ently tracks through with no dra­mas and the steer­ing is lively with lots of feel and feed­back and it re­mains beau­ti­fully com­posed re­gard­less of road sur­face. There is a dis­ap­point­ment when you are start­ing to have fun, how­ever, and that is the fact that the RS-V lacks steer­ing wheel mounted shift pad­dles. This wouldn’t be quite so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the man­ual shift ac­tion us­ing the gear lever is the wrong way around. You pull BACK to shift UP, Holden… That said, the slightly dated looks and lack of pad­dles are pretty much the only gripe we have with the Holden As­tra VX-R (and the gear pad­dle gripe can be solved by buy­ing the man­ual trans­mis­sion ver­sion any­way!). The As­tra is a star­tlingly good pack­age that is equally at home pot­ter­ing around town as it is stretch­ing its legs on the open road. Im­pres­sively equipped and even more im­pres­sively priced, if the As­tra is the future of Holden, then good rid­dance to the Com­modore.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.