The five-door Astra hatch returns to Holden’s line-up after a seven-year absence, during which time the outgoing model was sold under sister brand Opel for little more than a year during its failed attempt to crack the Australian market in 2012/2013.
The five-door Astra - unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show this week - will join the three-door Holden Astra GTC and VXR models that went on sale earlier this year, and looks likely to bring an end to production of the ageing Australian-made Cruze hatch.
The Holden Astra is a household name in Australia with an impressive history. Ten years ago it was one of the most popular small cars in the country, accounting for almost one in six sales in the segment.
While the company hasn’t set any sales targets for the new model at this stage, Holden communications director Sean Poppitt told us Astra represents an “excellent volume opportunity” for the brand.
“You only need to look at the charts and see that certain competitors, their small cars are right at the pointy end, and that’s certainly where we’d aim to be with this car as well. We will sell as many of these cars as we possibly can,” Poppitt said.
In light of Holden’s sales and market share being down around their lowest levels in half a century, and with local production due to wind up at the end of 2017, Poppitt says the new Astra is “hugely important to Holden”, and is an exciting car to take the brand forward.
“As we’re going through this important transition out of manufacturing the company needs to be more than just the Commodore car company, as special as that car is to us.
“In Australia you really need to win in small cars, you need to win in SUVs and you need to win in LCVs, and obviously for private buyers small cars is the biggest volume market and Astra will play a huge part for us.
“It’s premium, it looks great, it’s got fantastic technology, so it will put us back on buyers’ radars that may not have cross-shopped previous offerings against some of the other competitors.”
Holden won’t announce pricing until much closer to the Astra’s arrival, but insisted it would need to be competitive given the ultra-competitive nature of the market it’s entering.
“When I talk about premium it’s about being a premium offering, not necessarily in terms of price but in terms of kit, of style, in terms of perceived quality, and the Astra certainly does that.”
Currently, we’re expecting the Holden Astra hatch to reach our shores around September/October 2016.
The line-up will feature 1.4- and 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engines, six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, and multiple trim levels.
Touchscreen infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay will be standard (Android Auto should also be available depending on the spec of the screen), while Holden is also looking at a number of other features including first-in-class adaptive LED headlights, advanced safety assist systems including autonomous emergency braking, and 18-way adjustable front seats and heated rear seat, to name a few.
Stay tuned for our review of the new Astra hatch, which will be published at 8:01am on September 22.