I purchased my 2017 Holden Astra LT Sportwagon in November 2017. It replaced a 2013 Mitsubishi ASX Aspire diesel. I sold the SUV because of the service costs associated with the vehicle, plus its rather agricultural ride and the fact it wasn't particularly frugal or practical for my need for an urban runabout. What can I say? I was a me-too SUV buyer. I barely used its 4WD capability in the four years I owned it, so I guess other than the easy-exit ride height, it had lost its appeal.
I wanted a larger boot to carry stuff associated with my work, and the ability to put four people's bags in the boot and still have four operating seats for passengers. I looked at a number of small well-equipped wagons by Skoda, Renault and VW, but none were offered with a regular torque-converter automatic transmission like the Holden.
The ability to run the 1.4-litre motor on regular unleaded, when I was being a cheapskate, was a bonus. The other wagons I test-drove ran on premium unleaded petrol only, and mainly had one version or another of a dual-clutch transmission if you were to choose the higher-spec model. The sub-$30K drive-away price, cheap servicing costs and seven-year promotional warranty sealed the deal, so I put my money down as a first-time Holden buyer.
I have to say that after driving small diesel hatchbacks and an SUV for the past 11 years, I am impressed with the fuel economy in my mainly urban driving patterns. Fuel use has averaged between 6.6–7L/100km for urban commuting over the last 10,000km, having been achieved with no real attention to frugal driving. A 5.6L/100km average was achieved on the trip computer on a recent return trip to Ballina from Toukley with myself and three adults, plus a ton of bags and gear for a long-weekend trip.
It has adequate power to overtake with little turbo lag on the highway. The audio and Bluetooth in the car are great with good volume and reasonable bass. I found it pairs with my iPhone fast and Apple CarPlay is great. The voice recognition is reasonably good with the regular Holden software too; it does take time to learn its myriad of features – thank god for YouTube. The reverse camera's visual quality is pretty crap, but I guess you can't have everything.
The car is much quieter on the road than the ASX and handles well on the corners – being no sports car obviously – but doesn't get flustered by mid-corner bumps like the ASX did. The steering is perhaps a little lightweight, but I have gotten used to it over time.
The seats are firm although comfortable. They could perhaps use an electric function with smaller incremental movements to find a more comfy position for taller folk like me, but I haven't suffered back issues as a result. The lumbar support in the seat is helpful.
The lack of adaptive cruise control was a little disappointing, considering it can be optioned on the high-spec version of the hatch. It has regular cruise, but it does have a speed limiter so you don't run foul of the constabulary when passing through a school zone.
There is a bit of a storage deficiency for small items in the car – for all that modern crap we tend to carry like phones, keys and wallets – which could be improved upon. My rear-seat passengers grumbled on the long trip about the lack of an armrest and rear air-con vents. I don't sit in the back unless I am being driven home drunk by the partner, so their complaints were moot.
There was a slight rattle in one of the doors, which was sorted by the dealership promptly. The retainer clips needed extra insulation packing apparently.
I am very happy with the car so far, and would recommend taking one for a test drive if you were considering a small wagon.