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Holden Astra gets official tick

High hopes: Opel’s European Car of the Year, the new five-door Astra, is a key weapon in Holden’s reinvention as an importer.

Acclaimed Astra hatch ready for take-off as ‘Holden BK’ gets plate approval

Holden logo11 May 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

GM HOLDEN’S new-generation five-door Astra is another step closer to returning to Australian showrooms, with federal authorities giving plate approval to the German-engineered, British-made small hatchback.

Due here late in the year, the Astra hatch will be part of Holden’s double-barrelled small-car assault, selling alongside the next-generation Cruze sedan that is expected to roll off ships from South Korea in early 2017 to replace the locally built Cruze.

According to department of infrastructure and regional development documents seen by GoAuto, the Australian Design Rule application for the “Holden BK” was lodged by Holden’s European sister company, Adam Opel AG, and signed off on March 23.

BK is thought to be Holden’s new-model code for the five-door Astra – the fifth generation of the popular European hatch since the original replaced the Opel/Vauxhall Kadett in 1991.

Holden has high hopes for the new Astra, which was unveiled ahead of last year’s Frankfurt motor show and subsequently named 2016 European Car of the Year at this year’s Geneva show.

The Astra hatch is all new, riding on General Motor’s new D2XX small-car platform that is shared with the new Cruze.

The current-generation three-door Astra GTC and VXR hatches that were introduced to Australia under Holden badges last year will soldier on until replacements are available, probably sometime next year.

Holden has been without the five-door Astra since 2009 when it was discontinued in favour of the more affordable Korean Chevrolet Cruze, although the Astra made a brief return in 2012 as part of the ill-fated Opel pitch that lasted just 12 months in Australia.

The latest Astra is one of 24 new models to be introduced by Holden by 2020 as it adjusts to the closure of its local manufacturing plants in 2017 and reinvents itself as a full-line vehicle importer.

When Astra arrives, it is expected to offer a choice of two turbocharged petrol engines – a 74kW/125Nm 1.4-litre and 132kW/230Nm 1.6 litre.

Fresh from the local launch of the new Spark mini car, Holden is preparing to launch a number of vehicles in the remainder of this year, including the facelifted Colorado ute and related Trailblazer SUV (formerly Colorado 7) and a major rework of the Barina light hatchback that was previewed by the Chevrolet Sonic at the recent New York motor show.

The new models will be keenly welcomed by Holden dealers, as Holden sales are down 8.2 per cent this year.

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