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New models - Holden - Astra

First drive: Astra’s estate of play

Niche: Astra will rival small family wagons like Corolla, Lancer and 307.

Holden launches Astra wagon - its first small load-lugger since the 1984 Gemini

28 Jul 2005

HOLDEN is releasing its first small-segment station wagon since the demise of the TG Gemini 21 years ago.

The AH Astra wagon, a sixth-generation direct descendent, goes on sale at the end of the month in CD and CDX guises.

Like the equally new coupe and existing Astra hatch, it emanates from Belgium.

The wagon’s wheelbase has been stretched 89mm to 2701mm to accommodate more cargo (rather than increase rear-seat legroom).

The upshot is a 454-litre space that blossoms to 1549 litres with the split-fold seats down, approaching old mid-sizers like the 1997-2002 Holden Vectra and Toyota Camry wagons.

There is also a patented one-touch retractable cargo cover.

Compared to its TS five-door hatch predecessor, the AH Astra wagon is 52 per cent more resistant to body shell flexing, 47 per cent for lateral flexing and 15 per cent more torsionally rigid.

No body panels other than the bonnet, front bumper, mudguards and front doors to the B-pillars are shared with other Astras.

But much of the mechanicals are, including the aging though Euro-IV emissions-compliant 1.8-litre twin-cam 16-valve Ecotec four-cylinder engine.

Pumping out 90kW of power at 5600rpm (92kW on premium) and 165Nm of torque at 3800rpm (PULP: 170Nm), it’s mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox.

The official ADR 81/01 combined fuel consumption figure is 7.8L/100km for the former (7.9 CDX) and 8.3 for the latter.

Holden says it durability-tested the air-conditioning, engine calibration, launch and acceleration performance, knock-control and hot-fuel handling systems under Australian conditions.

Suspension is by MacPherson struts with lateral control arms up front while the rear’s is a specially compact torsion beam axle for a flatter floor and full-sized spare tyre portability.

13 center imageOn the safety front both models have anti-lock brakes with brake-assist, dual front and side airbags, ‘breakaway’ pedals that release in severe impacts to help reduce foot injury and rear-seat mounted child restraint anchors for unobstructed loading.

Other CD features include air-conditioning, cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels, steering-wheel audio and cruise control, a CD player, heated and powered mirrors, keyless entry and power windows.

The CDX’s bounty also features 16-inch alloys, velour-trimmed seats, a trip computer and a six-stacker CD audio.

Holden believes buyers slightly older than the Astra average will bite, along with small families needing a second car or free-spirited couples.

Sales expectations are modest, with 1800 AH wagons earmarked for the next year, or 120 units monthly.

June year-to-date sales for rivals are also few, since they scrap over just three per cent of the total small car segment.

Mitsubishi’s CH Lancer wagon managed 736 sales, the Peugeot 307 – buoyed by the sole turbo-diesel option – 474 units while the leading Toyota Corolla managed 2195 wagon conquests.

With the imminent demise of the Mitsubishi Magna, Holden says its wagon is in with a good chance.

2005 AH Astra wagon pricing:

CD $23,490
CD (a) $25,490
CDX $25,990
CDX (a) $27,990

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