Holden announced the return of the five-door Astra hatchback during the car’s unveiling at the Frankfurt motor show today, revealing the new model is currently on track to reach local showrooms toward the end of 2016.
The brand isn’t talking pricing yet, but the Astra will need to be competitive with the likes of the Corolla, Mazda 3, Volkswagen Golf and myriad others if it is to stand a chance in Australia’s ultra-competitive small hatch market, which is largely positioned between $20,000 and $35,000 plus on-road costs.
The all-new Astra is the 11th-generation compact car from Holden’s European sister brand Opel, continuing a legacy that dates back to the Kadett 1 of 1936.
The 2016 Holden Astra will be a completely different vehicle to the previous-generation Astra sold here briefly as part of the failed Opel venture, exhibiting the brand’s latest design philosophies inside and out, shedding up to 130kg in weight, and introducing a host of new powertrains, advanced safety and connected technologies.
Despite being 50mm shorter than its predecessor (the new model measures 4370mm from nose to tail), the company claims the new Astra boasts an extra 35mm of rear legroom for second-row passengers, as well as a larger boot.
Holden today confirmed it would offer two four-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged petrol engines in its new Astra line-up: an all-new 114kW/240Nm 1.4-litre with targeted fuel consumption of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres, and an upgraded version of its existing 1.6-litre producing 147kW and 300Nm. Conventional manual and automatic transmissions will be available.
The local division has decided against offering the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines available overseas. It likewise has no plans to offer the Astra Sports Tourer wagon in Australia, blaming our market’s typically poor take-up of wagons.
Holden’s Australian engineering team has been heavily involved in the development of the Astra’s chassis controls to ensure the new car performs well on local roads.
Above: new Astra wagon for Australia? Not likely, at this stage.
The 2016 Astra claims to be the first car in the mainstream compact class with adaptive LED matrix technology headlights, which provide superior illumination to the old car’s xenon lamps and allows owners to drive with their high beams on even with other motorists around by actively blocking beams of light in their direction.
The Opel Eye front-facing camera sits at the heart of the Astra’s suite of advanced driver-assistance technologies that includes traffic sign assistant, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, following distance indication, forward collision alert and collision imminent braking. The Astra’s autonomous emergency braking works between speeds of 8km/h and 80km/h and can bring the car to a complete stop to avoid a collision at speeds under 40km/h.
Also available is advance park assist that can guide the vehicle into parallel and perpendicular spaces.
The new Astra will also feature modern infotainment options, benefitting from the company’s IntelliLink system that’s available with 7.0- and 8.0-inch touchscreens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration software.
Overseas models will also get the OnStar connected services suite, which includes an automatic crash response function, 24-hour emergency call service, 24-hour concierge call service, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle assistance, and a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.
It’s unclear at this stage if any of the OnStar functions will be available to Holden customers.
The Astra’s cabin also features ergonomic seats that have been certified by Germany’s AGR (Campaign for Healthier Backs) to provide excellent long-distance comfort. The front seats are available with ventilation and massage functions, and 18-way adjustment including side bolster adjustment.
Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard describes the new Astra hatch as “a perfect small car for Australians”.
“The all-new Astra is a stunning car and clearly signposts Holden’s future product strategy – bringing in the best cars from around the GM world for our customers,” Bernhard said.
“The Astra offers leading design, performance and technology, and is the latest vehicle to be confirmed as part of Holden’s new product onslaught that promises 24 new models by 2020.”
He confirmed the five-door Astra would be sold alongside the existing Astra GTC and VXR sports models from late next year.
The introduction of the UK-built Astra hatch looks likely to signal an early end to the local production of the Cruze hatchback, however.
Speaking exclusively with CarAdvice ahead of the Frankfurt motor show, General Motors International president Stefan Jacoby suggested the two would not be sold alongside each other for any significant period of time, meaning Holden may switch off Cruze hatch production more than a year before it closes its factory at the end of 2017.
Jacoby said the Cruze sedan could continue to be produced until the plant closure as the two appeal to different buyers, though, as an ageing model, it too could be replaced by an imported model before then.