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2017 Holden Astra Sedan Review: First Drive


Good points

  • Sharp prices, strong value
  • Great ride-handling balance
  • Class-leading, peppy 1.4 turbo

Needs work

  • No AEB available at all
  • Misses hatch's great 1.6 turbo
  • LTZ wheels deteriorate the ride

Holden is a brand in transition. This Australian icon – think football, meat pies and Holden cars – has been something of a General Motors oddity in recent years. In the same showroom, you’ll find impressive locally-built models like the Commodore alongside fairly forgettable Asian models sourced from GM’s Korean arm and the odd Euro-built rebadged Opel, including the accomplished new Astra hatch. Mixed showroom, mixed reputation – but even as Holden has solidified arrangements for new European-built Astra and Commodore models, the product mix is going to keep changing. Local production shuts down in October and GM recently sold its European operations to Peugeot – so it’s really only the Korean plant that looks stable. So it’s appropriate that the newest car to wear the lion badge is the 2017 Holden Astra sedan – badged like the Euro hatch but built in South Korea, the four-door Astra needs to be the car to change perceptions that a Korean Holden means a subpar Holden.

Rebuilding faith in the Korean product is all part of a plan to re-establish Holden’s image in Australia – from local icon to full-line importer. It won’t be easy – especially with new European confusion that might see the new Astra and Commodore orphaned once Peugeot take over – but the backbone of the effort is Holden’s commitment to launch 24 new models by 2020. That’s a plan the brand recently affirmed, and the Astra sedan is one of those twenty-four.

2017 Holden Astra LTZ Sedan Side Profile – Chasing Cars

It’s been over a decade since Holden last sold an Astra sedan – but that car, the ‘TS’ Astra that Opel built for Holden from 1998–2005 was highly successful. Opel no longer make a four-door Astra – hence why Holden had to look to GM Korea, who build a booted version on the hatch’s underpinnings. It’s supplied to the Americans as the Chevrolet Cruze. But the car is far from a reborn Cruze – thankfully, it’s far superior.

The new Astra sedan is equipped and priced attractively, and it arrives $1,000 cheaper than the Euro hatch, opening at $20,490 for a base LS with a manual. Standard inclusions look good: alloys, a 7-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring and automatic headlights mean the Astra is generous compared to a Toyota Corolla, or Mazda 3. The Astra’s standard 1.4-litre turbo also makes those rivals look fairly antique: the Holden feels quiet, sporty and polished.

Only the lack of autonomous emergency braking across the entire sedan lineup is a black mark in 2017 against a feature set that is otherwise hard to fault. Move up the range, though, and luxury inclusions like larger wheels, a sunroof, lane keep assist and forward collision warning fill out the Astra a little further.

On our first drive of the Astra sedan in northern New South Wales, we were keen to see whether the Astra sedan could hold a candle to the more expensively-built European hatch version. On first impressions, it can: the sedan is a good addition to the Holden lineup that should be a win with buyers.

2017 Holden Astra LTZ Sedan Front Driving – Chasing Cars

Key specs (as tested)

1.4 litres
Single turbocharger
110kW at 6,500rpm
240Nm at 2,000–4,000rpm
Torque converter
Power to weight ratio
85.6kW / tonne
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
48 litres
Average Range
787 kilometres
Front wheel drive
Engine configuration
4.67 metres
1.81 metres
1.46 metres
Unoccupied weight
1,285 kilograms
Cargo space seats up
445 litres
Cargo seats down
Not listed

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