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Detroit show: Holden dubs new Cruze sedan ‘Astra’

Synergy: Holden is preparing to mount a three-pronged Astra attack with the announcement that it will rebadge the Chevrolet/Holden Cruze sedan as an Astra.

Holden to rebadge new Korean-built Cruze sedan as Astra, with sales starting in May

Holden logo10 Jan 2017

By TERRY MARTIN

GM HOLDEN has moved to rid itself of the Cruze nameplate but will continue to offer the small sedan in Australia, confirming at the Detroit motor show this week that it will launch the new-generation model here in May under the Astra badge.

The four-door will still be sourced from South Korea – as was the case before production shifted to Adelaide in 2011 – and carry engineering input from Australia, but Holden has developed a three-tiered Astra strategy to revive its fortunes in the all-important small-car segment, with the sedan joining the European-built hatch and coupe.

The Astra coupe is an older model while the new-generation hatchback was launched late last year – and has already taken a price cut, with Holden revealing earlier this week that between $250 and $1700 had been slashed from the model range to make it more competitive.

Australia is the only market in the world to rebadge the global Chevrolet Cruze sedan as an Astra, with Holden describing the move as “a great example of Holden’s ability to handpick the best vehicles for Australia from the GM global portfolio, being the only brand to offer both the Opel-based hatch variant and Chevrolet-based sedan variant in its line-up”.

The company was quick to point out at the announcement in Detroit that the sedan is based on the same Delta 2 platform as the Astra hatch – a model developed at GM Europe’s Russelsheim headquarters in Germany – although the Cruze sedan’s ‘homeroom’ is with Chevrolet in the US.

GM’s Australian subsidiary also promised that the latest sedan, which was unveiled in June 2015, will offer “polished driving manners, great technology and unique GM Australia design and engineering treatment”.

“Last year, Holden committed to launching 24 new products by 2020, and Astra sedan represents the 13th of those, joining Astra hatch and Astra coupe to continue building a world-class small-car range,” said GM Holden director of planning and program management, Marinos Panayiotou.

“Astra sedan is a truly global vehicle, developed in Europe, manufactured in Korea and finished with design elements and significant engineering input from Holden.

“Astra’s luxurious interior is complemented by advanced driver and connectivity technology in addition to progressive exterior styling which, when you add to the hatch variant, gives Holden a strong line-up in the small-car segment.”

Although the Cruze sedan was crafted in Detroit, the Port Melbourne-based GM Australia design team had a hand in reworking the front grille and fascia to incorporate the lion badge and make it tie in neatly with the other Astra models and the broader Holden range.

“Sharing the same architecture as the Astra hatch, the new Astra sedan assumes a rational, sophisticated persona to expand on the appeal of the sports-styled hatch,” said GM Australia design director Richard Ferlazzo.

“Our Australian designers have styled a unique Holden face with exclusive new front fascia and grille, closely aligning with the next-generation Commodore to give a more cohesive look to not Astra, but to the wider Holden product range.”

In terms of engineering, Holden says “in-depth” work was carried out at the company’s Lang Lang proving ground in South Gippsland in Victoria “to ensure it exhibits the refinement and composure displayed by its sibling, Astra hatch”.

GM Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley said swapping the Cruze moniker for Astra simplifies the company’s small-car range, which stands to benefit from a nameplate that “communicates European engineering and global design strength”.

“With the addition of Astra sedan, Holden’s small-car range is looking stronger than ever,” he said.

The Cruze has been in service in Australia since 2009, and was built in Australia from 2011 to October last year.

The model has suffered double-digit sales downturns since 2012, when it fell below 30,000 units, and has never really recovered.

VFACTS figures released last week show that the model dropped a further 15.2 per cent last year to 12,904 units, placing well behind the segment-leading Toyota Corolla which racked up more than 40,000 sales.

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