Holden As­tra

Damien O’car­roll ex­plains the United Na­tions ge­n­e­sis of the new As­tra sedan.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

With the end of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing and the dras­tic shift in mar­ket de­mands (mainly away from large cars and to­wards SUVS), Holden has sud­denly found it­self a far more mul­ti­cul­tural com­pany, in terms of its model range, that is. With ve­hi­cles launched from all over the world, in­clud­ing Europe, North Amer­ica and Asia, no car prob­a­bly sums this world mix bet­ter than the Holden As­tra, par­tic­u­larly the newly-launched sedan vari­ant. You see, while the hatch is built in Poland, the sedan is built in Korea on the same Ger­man-de­vel­oped plat­form. Also, while the hatch was de­signed in Europe, the sedan was de­signed in Amer­ica. Oh, and Aus­tralia played a part as well – as well as hav­ing in­put into the sedan’s en­gi­neer­ing, Holden also did its usual track of de­vel­op­ing a spe­cific lo­cal tune for the sedan, with tweaks to the steer­ing and sus­pen­sion to make them more suit­able to lo­cal roads (for ex­am­ple, our crown­ing and cam­ber is far more ag­gres­sive than most other coun­tries) as well as Holden’s de­ci­sion to take the sedan in a more com­fort-ori­ented di­rec­tion than the hatch’s more overtly sporty na­ture. The As­tra sedan is avail­able in New Zealand in three guises, all pow­ered by the 1.4-litre en­gine hooked up to a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. The LS kicks off the range at $30,990 and comes stan­dard with 16-inch al­loy wheels, au­to­matic head­lights, cruise con­trol, au­to­matic head­lights, a 7-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem rear park­ing sen­sors and a back­ing cam­era. The $34,490 LS adds 17-inch al­loy wheels, a leather steer­ing wheel, LED day­time run­ning lights, blind spot alert, key­less en­try and start, auto park­ing, rain sens­ing wipers and satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion. The top-spec LTZ then adds 18inch al­loy wheels, an elec­tric sun­roof, heated leather-ap­pointed seats, cli­mate con­trol air con­di­tion­ing and heated wing mir­rors for $38,490. The LT and LTZ also get Holden’s new “Holden Eye” for­ward fac­ing cam­era driver as­sist sys­tem that in­cludes lane keep as­sist, a for­ward dis­tance in­di­ca­tor and for­ward col­li­sion alert. Un­for­tu­nately this doesn’t in­clude au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, a fea­ture Holden en­gi­neers ad­mit they would have liked, but sim­ply wasn’t avail­able for RHD cars. While it is dis­tinctly more com­fort-bi­ased than the hatch, the sedan still feels nicely planted, con­fi­dent and nim­ble, much like the hatch. The steer­ing is lighter, but still nicely di­rect, although it does lack the ul­ti­mate com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the hatch. But in terms of com­fort Holden en­gi­neers have got it spot on, with a fan­tas­ti­cally re­solved ride that would seem more in keep­ing with a car at least one seg­ment up. Like the hatch, the 1.4-litre en­gine is a bril­liantly strong unit, with a fan­tas­ti­cally flex­i­ble na­ture that is equally happy to be revved to the lim­iter or lugged in high gears with no com­plaints. Equally, the six-speed au­to­matic is a slick and re­mark­ably smooth unit that is nicely matched to the en­gine’s char­ac­ter­is­tics. On the in­side the As­tra sedan is mod­ern and nicely laid out with the only real down­side be­ing that it doesn’t match the hatch in terms of fit and fin­ish or ma­te­rial qual­ity. There are quite a few ar­eas of hard plas­tics in the sedan and while that is to be ex­pected in a car of this size and price, the hatch did set the bar higher than the sedan could reach. While the lack of AEB (which the hatch does have) and lower in­te­rior qual­ity count against the sedan, the hand­some looks, good lev­els of stan­dard equip­ment and high lev­els of com­fort still make the As­tra a strong pack­age.

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