Fresh from winning the 2016 European Car of the Year award, the all-new 2017 Holden Astra has touched down in NZ, and the manufacturer has gone to great lengths to ensure that this one remains Surprisingly Holden and perfectly suited to NZ, despite its European design. The best of both worlds, I say!
Designed and engineered in Germany, Astra’s all-new lightweight architecture means the new model boasts a weight reduction of up to 160kg, compared to its predecessor. It also offers a choice of an all-alloy 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine or a sporty 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the latter found in the RS and range topping RS-V, which produces 147kW of power and 300Nm of torque.
From an engineering perspective, the Astra has received substantial input from Holden Australia, with local engineers tuning it for Down Under conditions. The end result is a vehicle which promises some of the sharpest dynamics and most efficient performance in the small car class. And the indicator stalk is located on the right!
“We have provided feedback and contributed to changes associated with ride and handling, as well as suspension and steering inputs,” said Lead Development Engineer for the Astra programme from Holden Australia, Kristian Johannessen. “We’ve been involved in the program for a significant amount of time and worked with the engineering homeroom to develop special calibrations which find favor with New Zealand and Australian motorists.
“Kiwis and Aussies typically like to have a great connection with their car,” adds Mr Johannessen. ”They appreciate being part of the action through an involving driving experience extracting positive feedback from the vehicle.”
After driving the model range, AA Motoring’s resident car critic Cade Wilson found that even the base model 1.4ltr turbo with 6-speed manual, was a highly engaging car and great fun to drive.
“The Astra has firm suspension which made for great handling, but it didn’t translate in to a bumpy ride” says Cade. “And it only got better as the model range climbed, with extra spec and safety assists added to the package.”
Two of the models have received top mark 5-star ANCAP safety ratings. The RS and RS-V both include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane support systems as standard.
If you’re buying the R base model, you’ll have to invest $1,500 to get these functions as part of the Driver Assistance Pack upgrade, and this also includes forward collision alert, following distance indicator, and rain sensing wipers – all thanks to the inclusion of the HoldenEye® forward facing camera.
To coincide with the launch of the new Astra, Holden has released a locally made TV commercial which plays on the European heritage of the new model.