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by Matt Brogan

European car buffs have handed the Vauxhall/Opel Astra its first major trophy last over night in Berlin, by winning the Golden Steering Wheel in the compact class. It is the most prestigious award issued by Auto Bild magazines group. This year’s election involved readers in 26 European countries, representing more than 40 million readers overall.

The all new Vauxhall/Opel Astra won by a comfortable margin, getting top marks in the engine, fuel consumption, chassis, braking, steering and driver assistance safety systems categories. Race drivers and technical experts ranked the Astra number one, awarding the Astra seven out of eight points while technical experts awarded the compact car five out of eight.

“This is terrific news and a real feather in our cap,” said Andy Gilson, Vauxhall’s Marketing Director. “Not only has the new Astra been shortlisted for the European Car of the Year, which we won last year with the Insignia, but it’s now taken an important award from an international jury of readers. And all before the car hits showrooms on December 11.”

The Golden Steering Wheel election is organised in two phases. In the first round, European readers voted for their favourite vehicles, selecting a total of 46 in six categories (small, compact, mid-upper, luxury, supersport and vans). Next, a panel of 50 experts including technicians, race drivers, chief editors and VIPs tested and judged the nominees on dynamics, comfort and quality. Racing drivers who participated in the voting, included two-time World Rally Champions Walter Röhrl and Isolde Holderied, and DTM pilots Mattias Ekström and Ralf Schumacher.

Vauxhall/Opel last won the Golden Steering Wheel in 2005 with the Zafira.

  • lazybones

    You mean it didn’t go to the Cruze? How bizarre.

  • Toyota Guru

    And… GMH have shot themselves in the feet yet again by not bringing this new Astra here.

    • Philthy

      Blah blah blah…. you do know the Astra and Cruze are built on the same platform?.. I’m aware that the Cruze has shopping trolley rear suspension, but your average Corolla driver couldn’t care less. Check the sales figures. The Cruze is fit for its intended purpose and doing quite well.

      • Bent 8 Brigade

        I’m not aware of any reviews thus far that have mentioned any lack of ride quality on the Cruze, ‘shopping trolley rear suspension’ or not, and it is indeed selling quite well.
        Yes, Astra and Cruze are on the same platform, and HSV is evaluating a version using a turbo engine, likely from the previous VXR.

      • Devil’s Advocate

        Phithy, for information the Cruze is built on the previous Astra platform (ie, the last one they sold here), NOT this one. Among other engineering improvements the new Astra now has multi link fully independant rear suspension, as opposed to the torsion beam ‘shopping trolley’ suspension you mentioned. You are right though, the average ‘Corolla’ driver would notice or care less. :-)

        • Devil’s Advocate

          Although I could be wrong! Wouldn’t be the first time or the last. The net is full of contradictory information! Either way the Cruze is here to stay and offers good value for money. Something the Astra wouldn’t be able to do due to the exchange rates etc.

      • lazybones

        Delta II supports a number of future cars including the volt. But would you compare the volt to the Astra?

        Both the Astra & Cruze are sold in Europe. But it was the Astra which got the award. Doesn’t that tell you something?

        • Philthy

          That tells me that it’s probably a nicer car than the Cruze, which it should be seeing as it’s more expensive. Doesn’t mean that the Cruze is horrible or the wrong car for the local market though.

          • lazybones

            Thats right, its cheap and cheerful and nothing to get enthusiastic about

  • riceboy

    bring in a HSV version!

  • Bob

    So, GM Holden decides to replace the Astra with something “almost as good” as the outgoing car. Meanwhile European Astra moves on.

    So the gap between what we have and what we could have had becomes a chasm, buyers know this, and Holden’s small car sales will droop again. And GM sales execs will be baffled again.


  • darren

    Holden didnt bring it here because its too stylish with sweeping lines. It has to be a plain boxy car for holden to want it, a la cruze !!

  • Raf

    New Astra didn’t get imported because of exchange rate considerations. Couldn’t be done at a competitive price. The End. That’s the only reason.

    Since they’ve now committed to the Cruze in that size range, it seems unlikely that they’ll start bringing in the Astra even if exchange rates with the pound and the Euro have sufficiently improved.

  • Bimmerc

    look at the exchange rate now, $1 Aus = $0.9 US.

    exchange rate is not an excuse.

    • filippo

      And what does the $US exchange rate have to do with importing a car from Europe?

  • Brett

    I think they didn’t bring in the new Astra because it would only reiterate how bad the commodore really is. Cruze is ok but wont detract from commodore buyers.

  • Myke

    As Raf stated the reason Holden aren’t bring the Astra is because of the exchange rate, they probably realise too that very few people would pay VW Golf money for a Holden badged Astra.
    Also considering the Cruze is selling well and with an Aussie built hatch on the way, the Astra is no longer relevant.

  • Dino

    I actually think the Cruze looks very good on its own, and considering it shall be built here with a liftback version, I for one is happy to give this Astra a miss.


    how did the new golf gti compare to it?zafira won the same award?do i smell some corruption?…

  • filippo

    That Astra pictured is a nice looking car. If Renault and Fiat can survive in Australia then I’m sure Opel could also do well under their own badge.

    Re the local production of a Cruze hatch, I doubt it will go ahead. Holden only committed to this project when Ford were planning to build the Focus locally. Now that Ford’s plans have changed (or as some would say, never existed!) and the ‘Made in Korea’ stigma isn’t hurting the Cruze sedan’s sales, it would be difficult to justify an expensive local production line.

  • Joker

    It would have been Funny is Opel was sold off to China and they started selling Astra’s in Australia again…we’d have a lot of confused people out there 😉
    But wait…the Cruze is…but the Astra….errr…my head hurts!!!! :(