The coming new 2017 Holden Astra has been named the 2016 European Car of the Year, in its overseas Opel-branded guise, by a panel of 58 motoring journalists from across the continent.
The Astra finished with a total of 312 points and was the first choice of 24 jury members. Second was the Volvo XC90, which finished with 294 points as the number one pick of 11 jurists. Rounding out the podium places was the Mazda MX-5, which snagged 202 points and 13 first-choice picks.
As for the other finalists, the Audi A4 placed fourth with 189 points, the Jaguar XE came in fifth with 163 points, the Skoda Superb made it to sixth spot thanks to its total of 147 points, and the BMW 7 Series wasn't far behind on 143 points.
Above: second-placed Volvo XC90
The Astra was praised for its impressive weight loss, with the latest-generation model up to 200 kilograms lighter than the outgoing car.
The judges also noted that despite being around 50mm shorter, the new car is actually more spacious than the preceding model. Jury members were similarly impressed by the Astra's segment-first features, including matrix LED headlights, and ergonomic front seats with built-in ventilation and massaging functions.
Above: Opel Astra wagon
In Europe, the Astra is currently available as either a five-door hatchback or a wagon. A sedan is under development, and will be sold with either Opel or Buick badges depending on the market
From later this year, the Astra hatch will go on sale in Australia as a Holden. The new Astra will be part of Holden's two-prong attack on the local small car market. Starting early 2017, the Astra will be joined in Holden showrooms by the next-generation Cruze sedan, which will be imported from South Korea.
Last month, Holden announced that it will, in October of this year, cease production of the current-generation Cruze sedan and hatch at its factory in Elizabeth, South Australia. The company is currently winding down its Australian manufacturing operations, with production of the Commodore and its derivatives slated to cease next year.