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by Matt Campbell

The all-new 2017 Holden Astra is here, but it isn’t going for a cut-throat, cut-price position in the busy small car class.

That role, previously filled by the Holden Cruze, has been eschewed in favour of a more “premium” positioning for the new European-sourced Astra hatchback.

Peter Keley, Holden executive director of sales, said that the budget battleground isn’t where the brand wants to fight with this new model.

“At the end of the day, the market is shifting,” Keley said. “You know, $19,990 used to be the sweet spot. That dissipated some time ago.”

Some time ago? Er, Pete, the Hyundai i30 – a direct competitor to this car – has been the biggest selling car in Australia over several months this year because of its sub-$20,000 price point. The i30 Active auto was positioned at $19,990 drive-away, and it walked out the door. In June, the other H brand sold 6432 examples of the i30, mainly because of that ridiculously low price.

Keley admitted that there’s still action there – and that Holden has played there before – but said that it doesn’t intend to with its new, more expensive Astra.

“Occasionally our competitors are there, and we’re there with Cruze, obviously. But going forward, you’re going to see that plus-$20,000 is where the market is,” he said. “Astra will be one of the pillars of the Holden range going forward.

“We’re now writing another chapter in one of Australia’s most reputable brand names,” Keley said.

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We’ve already reported on the early details of the Holden Astra range, which is split into three models – the entry-grade R, the mid-spec RS, and the flagship RS-V.

The R model has a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 110kW of power and either 245Nm (for the six-speed manual) or 240Nm of torque (for the six-speed auto). Fuel use is claimed at 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres for both versions, and it can run on 91RON regular unleaded fuel.

The RS and RS-V versions are powered by 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines, both with 147kW of power and 300Nm of torque on overboost. There’s a choice of six-speed manual (with fuel use of 6.5L/100km) or six-speed auto (6.3L/100km), and it requires 95RON premium fuel.

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Pictured above: 2017 Holden Astra RS-V

All Astra models have six airbags (dual front, front side and full-length curtain protection), and every model has a rear-view camera and rear parking sensors.

The mid- and top-spec versions get front parking sensors, semi-automated parking assistance, and Holden Eye forward-facing camera tech with forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), as well as active lane-keeping assistance.

Buyers who want the most affordable model can get a Driver Assistance Pack (available from April 2017) that adds a leather-lined steering wheel, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, and the Holden Eye system. That pack will cost $1000.

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Like the look of the top-end RS-V model but still want more fruit? There’s a Touring Pack ($1990) that adds an electronic sunroof and adaptive cruise control, or an Innovations pack ($3990) that builds on the Touring pack by adding the IntelliLux adaptive LED matrix headlights. These lights feature auto high-beam, and can shine a bright beam away from cars in front and oncoming traffic.

As for pricing and specs, here is how the range stacks up:

Specifications by model

Astra R
Six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain)
17-inch alloy wheels
Rear-view camera
Rear parking sensors
ISOFIX child seat anchorage system (x2)
Projector headlamps (halogen) with LED daytime running lights
Cruise control and speed limiter
7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
DAB+
digital radio
Bluetooth phone and audio streaming

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Pictured above: 2017 Holden Astra R

Astra RS (adds over R)
Five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels
Keyless entry and push-button start
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Heated side mirrors
Advanced park assist (auto parallel and perpendicular reverse park)
Front parking sensors
Holden Eye forward-facing camera with AEB, lane-keeping assist
Blind-spot monitoring
Rain-sensing wipers

Astra RS-V (adds over RS)
18-inch alloy wheels
LED tail lamps
Remote start
Electric park brake
Heated leather appointed sports seats
Heated steering wheel
Power lumbar adjustment
Dual-zone climate control
8.0-inch touchscreen media
Satellite navigation with live traffic updates
Colour driver information display

2017 Holden Astra pricing (plus on-road costs)

Astra R manual – $21,990
Astra R auto – $24,190
Astra RS manual – $26,490
Astra RS auto – $28,690
Astra RS-V manual – $30,990
Astra RS-V auto – $33,190

MORE: Astra news, reviews, comparisons and videos
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